Colloque: « Spaces, Places and Times of Solitude », Berne, du 9 au 11 décembre 2015

Spaces, Places and Times of Solitude (Bern, 9-11 Dec 2015) University of Bern, December 9 – 11, 2015 A Three-Day International and Interdisciplinary Conference University of Bern, 9–11 December 2015 Hallerstrasse 6, Room 205 Organized by Christine Göttler, University of Bern, in collaboration with Karl A. E. Enenkel, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster This conference asks about the construction, imagination and representation of the space of solitude in art, architecture, literature, church history and theology throughout the late medieval and early modern periods. It addresses, among other themes, the construction of ‘sacred solitude’ by various monastic orders; the literary and visual imagination of coenobitic or communal solitude; and the role of interiority and solitude in reform movements. Are there liturgical time periods specifically associated with solitude such as Lent and Easter? How was the space of prayer conceived of, imagined and represented in the late medieval and early modern European world? Other major questions concern the imagery and different forms of contemptus mundi and the role of early modern cultural criticism, including court criticism. From the 1300s onwards, solitude also became intrinsically connected with the space of aesthetic production (writing, drawing, painting). Topics discussed in the conference include discourses, practices, spaces, places and objects that shaped the construction of solitary selves in various societal environments and cultures.

Attendance is free of charge but due to limited seats, registration is required until 30 November 2015. Contact: Michèle Seehafer, For more information please visit our website:


PROGRAM: Wednesday, 9 December 2015

15:15–15:30 Welcome and Introduction (Christine Göttler and Karl A. E. Enenkel)

15:30–17:10 Session 1: Solitude in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe chaired by Walter S. Melion

Karl A. E. Enenkel, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster Petrarch’s construction of the Sacred Place (locus sacer) in ‘De vita solitaria’ and other writings

Christine Göttler, University of Bern The re-invention of solitude in late sixteenth- and seventeenth-century art

17:10–17:30 Coffee and tea

17:30–20:00 Session 2: Solitude in the Forest and on the Mountain Top chaired by Agnès Guiderdoni

Stefan Abel, University of Bern Wolfram’s ‘soltâne’: On the impossibility of an artificial paradise

Bernd Roling, Freie Universität Berlin Seeress in the Woods: The early modern debate on Veleda, Auricinia and Vola

Isabella Augart, University of Hamburg Stony solitudes: Rock formations in Trecento painting as sites of poetic inspiration and hermit contemplation

20:00 Buffet for speakers and invited guests

Thursday, 10 December 2015

9:00–10:40 Session 3: Hermit Iconographies chaired by Richard Nemec

Dominic E. Delarue, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Late medieval legendaries as a summa of solitude: Different forms of hermit iconography in the illustrations of the Legenda aurea and other hagiographic manuscripts

James Clifton, Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston “Ne viderent oculi mei arbores”: Landscape and prayer in eremetical and mystical practice and imagery

10:40–11:00 Coffee and tea

11:00–12:40 Session 4: Solitude in Jesuit Emblematics chaired by James Clifton

Agnès Guiderdoni, Université catholique de Louvain Compositio loci: Constructing the imaginary desert of the soul in the emblematic literature

Walter S. Melion, Emory University Emblemata solitariae Passionis: Jan David, S.J. on the solitary Passion of Christ

12:40–14:00 Lunch break

14:00–16:30 Session 5: Places of Solitude: The Chapel, the Ermitage, and the Studiolo chaired by Christine Göttler

Steffen Zierholz, University of Bern Solitude in the chapel of Fra Mariano del Piombo in San Silvestro al Quirinale in Rome

Carla Benzan, University of Essex Alone at the summit: Solitude and the ascetic imagination at Varallo’s Mount Tabor

Christiane J. Hessler, Berlin Dead men talking: The studiolo of Urbino – A Duke in mourning and the Petrarchan tradition

16:30–16:45 Coffee and tea

17:15–18:45 Keynote Lecture: University of Bern, Hauptgebäude, Hörsaal 220

Karl A. E. Enenkel, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster Petrarcas Stadtkritik in ‘De vita solitaria’ und anderen Schriften     

Maria Bindschedler-Gastvorlesung, Berner Mittelalter Zentrum, Ringvorlesung: Stadtgemeinschaften – Stadtkulturen Introduction: Christine Göttler and Gerlinde Huber-Rebenich, University of Bern

19:00 Dinner for speakers and invited guests (Haus der Universität)

Friday, 11 December 2015

9:00–10:40 Session 6: Solitude in the World: The Monastery and the School chaired by Bernd Roling

Mette Birkedal Bruun, University of Copenhagen Solitudes with permeable boundaries: La Trappe and its repercussions

Lars Nørgaard, University of Copenhagen Crafting solitude: Individual and collective transitions at Saint Cyr

10:40–11:00 Coffee and tea

11:00–12:40 Session 7: The Construction of Female Solitudes chaired by Arnold Witte

Eelco Nagelsmit, University of Copenhagen The solitary tree: Mademoiselle de Guise between ‘salonnière’ and ‘solitaire’

Marie Theres Stauffer, University of Geneva The hermitage in Bayreuth and the ‘Spiegelscherbenkabinett’

12:40–14:15 Lunch break

14:15–16:45 Session 8: The Architecture of Solitude chaired by Eelco Nagelsmit

Richard Nemec, University of Bern ‘Solitudo and ostentatio’: The papal and royal-imperial residences of Benedict XI and Charles IV

Arnold Witte, Royal Netherlands Institute, Rome >From literature to architecture: Pliny’s diaeta and the origins of the early modern hermitage as a space for aesthetics

David R. Marshall, University of Melbourne Aristocratic solitude: The Villa Patrizi and the early modern romitorio

16:45–17:15 Coffee and tea

17:15–18:55 Session 9: Aesthetics and Poetry of Solitude chaired by Mette Birkedal

Bruun Paul J. Smith, Leiden University ‘Passer solitarius in tecto’: Tribulations of a lonely bird in poetry and natural history, from Petrarch to Buffon

Barbara Baert, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven The sleeping nymph: Genius loci and silence

18:55–19:30 Concluding discussion (Karl A. E. Enenkel and Christine Göttler)

Marie Piccoli-Wentzo

Marie Piccoli-Wentzo est docteure en Histoire de l'Art moderne. Elle a soutenu sa thèse sur l'image du désert dans l'Italie du XVe siècle à l'Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Ses recherches actuelles portent sur l'expérience esthétique du public de la fin de l'époque médiévale et de la Renaissance devant une œuvre.

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