Research Stream


Michael Champion (2016)
Australian Catholic University

Translating Emotions from Palestinian Monasticism to Humanism (c.1500-1650)

This project investigates translations of emotion terms from the works of Dorotheus of Gaza to identify and interpret the influences of Palestinian monasticism on the intellectual life of early modern Europe.

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The Greek monastic writings of Dorotheus of Gaza (sixth century) were quickly disseminated into Latin: our first Latin manuscript dates from the eleventh century, Dorotheus influenced medieval Benedictines, and he was a favourite of early Jesuits, mandated for novices’ education alongside Augustine and Cassian. Latin and vernacular translations (transmitted with other translations of patristic, medical and rhetorical works) proliferated from the end of the fifteenth century to the start of the eighteenth century. The resulting corpus of translations can be mined to explore the reception of a significant late-antique approach to emotions, and its important place within early modern theological, medical and ethical discourses. This study investigates and compares translations of Dorotheus’ work, studying their ‘emotions’ vocabulary to chart significant uses and changes, thereby identifying key intellectual influences on significant early modern traditions. Dorotheus’ ‘keywords’ include hexis and pathos, and I will investigate how these move across into other languages (e.g. passio, dispositio, habitus, affectio and affectus in Latin). I will also investigate how emotional scripts and culturally specific practices move from Dorotheus’ monastic context into humanist and Jesuit communities, for example, how Dorotheus’ ideas were understood within the Jesuit spiritual discipline of the examination of conscience. The project’s multi-lingual and intercultural approach will enable contributions to methodological debates about how emotions change as they move between linguistic and cultural communities.

Image: Saint Hilarion Monastery c.sixth century, Gaza. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED, 28 November 2010