Norm and Community: Early Medieval Monastic Rules and the Development of Regular Observance


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project investigates the role of normative texts in organizing and ordering closed communities and shaping collective identities. It focuses on the development of western monasticism between the fifth and ninth centuries, and particularly on the corpus of roughly 20 monastic rules produced in this period. It investigates when and how monastic communities began to organize themselves on the basis of written collections of norms and which notions of community and techniques of discipline these texts deployed. The objective is to write a history of regular observance, which challenges the notion that following a written rule was a stable feature of monastic life, and to compile a comprehensive reference work of early medieval monastic normative texts, many of which have never been studied.