Mary Agnes Edsall F'12
ACLS Fellowship Program 2012
Visiting Assistant Professor
University of Massachusetts Boston
A Road of the Affections: Rhetoric, Catechesis, and the Cultivation of the Christian Self, A.D. 1-1150
This project rewrites a paradigm long central to the study of medieval history and medieval devotional literature: affective piety. It demonstrates that the genealogy of affective piety goes back to the arts of disciplining the passions that originated in the philosophical schools of antiquity. Philosophers teaching disciplines of the soul were also rhetoricians who sought to move and persuade. Their methods were adapted by early Christian teachers. Thus this this project recovers the history of how preaching, texts, and practices were used to share the emotions and craft Christian selves at different times and places. This perspective significantly changes the view on why, over the centuries, devotional practices that appealed to the affections were so common.