The Early Modern Interdisciplinary Graduate Forum (EMIGF) is a monthly event hosted by the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) at the University of Toronto, and is a platform for PhD Candidates, post-docs, fellows, and recent graduates to deliver papers or open discussions on their research in an informal setting with an interdisciplinary group of Early Modernists. Its mandate is to provide junior and emerging scholars with the opportunity to present work in progress, and to facilitate dialogue on current topics in early modern research across the disciplines.
“Virtual Pilgrimage: Simulating Sacred Space in Descrizione del Sacro Monte della Vernia”
Shaun Midanik, Department of Art History, University of Toronto
Based on the pilgrimage site of La Verna where St. Francis supposedly received the stigmata, the illustrated book the Descrizione del Sacro monte della Vernia (1612) contains pictures of the sanctuary amid bizarre rock formations, vegetation and other natural phenomena. The author, Lino Moroni, encourages readers to look at the book “with engraved prints in copper first, and then with [the] inscription of words”. Moroni understands his work as a visual object, a substitute for viewing the site in person. This paper asks: how was the experience of seeing La Verna simulated in print? My approach is threefold. First, I examine the book’s introductory texts for how they present this pictorial simulacrum. The introductory material changed dramatically across print runs, with diverse meanings suggested in each of the three editions. Second, I analyze differences across numerous iterations of the Descrizione, such as the inclusion in the second edition of depictions of Christ and Francis on Plate S. These variations are evidence of diverse understandings of the virtual pilgrimage. Third, this paper looks at how the Descrizione emerges out of other media, examining how Moroni moved from medieval textual descriptions of pilgrimage sites and towards a new pictorially driven book.
“Memory, Place, and Renegade Religious Identity in EM Naples”
Hana Suckstroff, Department of History, University of Toronto
In the 16th and 17th centuries, hundreds of renegades, Catholic converts to Islam, appeared before the Neapolitan inquisition for formal reconciliation. In adjudicating these cases, inquisitors sought to establish the renegade’s original Catholic identity by fixing the renegade to a Catholic homeland. This paper, based on a study of 100 cases from 1552-1642 from Naples’ diocesan archive, argues that this conflation of place and identity broke down around the turn of the century. Inquisitors were increasingly skeptical that a renegade’s place of origin made for a Catholic upbringing, and probed their memories of churches, masses, monks, and priestly vestments in their homelands for sensory clues about their childhood religious formation. This paper argues that the religious plurality of some renegade homelands (eg., the Balkans) and the exiling of Moriscos from Spain challenged earlier assumptions about place and identity, and demanded further sensory and spatial evidence to confirm Catholic identity.