Spoleto, 13 – 19 April 2023
In 2005 an article by Jean-Claude Schmitt (Cahiers de Civilisation Médiévale, 48, pages 31-52) defined Time as the “l’impensé de l’histoire” (the common preconception in history). If we acknowledge, as Marc Bloch once wrote, that history is “la science des hommes dans the temps” (the science of men in time), it appears that the conceptions of time and expressions thereof in the early Middle Ages have never been specifically studied, nor has a thorough summary ever been drafted. The interesting convention held by the Mittelateiner Kommittee in Lyon in 2014 (whose documents were published in 2017) regularly focused on literary, historical and philosophical texts in Latin referring to the Middle Ages on the whole, somehow overlooking the early centuries, while the topic of CISAM’s Rome-Subiaco 2017 convention was basically limited to monastic communities. Despite the essential chapters concerning some specific centuries of the Middle Ages (usually the late ones) in essays by Ariès, Von den Steinen, Gurevič, Le Goff, Martin, Baschet, Pomian and in articles by Wolff and many others, perhaps time and its definitions and gauging in the Middle Ages were not properly and thoroughly studied until historian Arno Borst came along, who made it a key topic of study relying on a very vast documentary base, including astronomical knowledge, calculation techniques and the relevant social and scientific aspects.
This safe haven and the new concept of time as a rhythmic scan – recently introduced by Schmitt – can therefore be our starting point to better understand, from a broader standpoint, the phenomenon of time in the early Middle Ages. In order to grasp an era’s “notion” of time it is crucial to analyse the semantic families representing it in different medieval languages, as are crucial the comparison with the ideas generally held in European and extra-European civilisations (including Byzantium, Islam, Judaism) passively in contact with the West, the perceptions that emerge from archaeological findings, the representations of months and seasons in artworks, the set of mental instruments through which men and women of the early Middle Ages defined and used this category, the daily structures of time as a nutritional, legal and liturgic element, the expressions of time in grammatical agreements and in musical theories and practice, including in the rhythmic alternations of code writing. CISAM’s LXX Study Week 2023 asks 36 international scholars to hold lessons and debate all the above, addressing the topic within their own field of expertise, to compare consolidated and newly-formed opinions, classical interpretations and recent hypotheses, involving as many testimonies, disciplines and early Middle Ages societies as possible, thus gathering – limited to the sphere of an alternate history free from anachronisms – the deepest possible knowledge of the concept of time in the early Middle Ages.
Commissione: Stella (P), Cremascoli, Crivello, Falluomini, Montanari.