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Thomas a Kempis’s Imitation of Christ: The history of a Book - November 28th-29th 2022

19 November 2022

Dates: November 28th-29th 2022
Location: Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Oude Boteringestraat 38, 9712 GK Groningen

Thomas a Kempis

Thomas a Kempis’s Imitation of Christ is a worldwide bestseller, its spread comparable only with Holy Scripture itself. A classic Christian text written near Zwolle, it was translated in almost every written language in the world and is reprinted to the present day. It has a considerable intertextual presence: in the form of sayings, such as in the Netherlands ‘in een hoekske met een boekske (in a little corner with a book)’ as the place where to find peace and quiet, and in literature. In Britain, it inspired the protagonist of Richardson’s Pamela or Virtue Rewarded (1740) and was a constant presence in the lives of Barbara Pym’s spinsters. Quite recently, liberation theologian Leonardo Boff viewed the Imitation as a point of departure for an active and contemplative Christianity focused on solving current problems such as the present ecological crisis on Earth. A team of international experts will meet in person and hybridly, in preparation for a book on this great work and its author.


Monday 28th, Court Room

  • 10.15-10.30: Opening Mathilde van Dijk, University of Groningen
  • 10.30-12.00: Session 1
    Charles Caspers, Titus Brandsma Instituut Nijmegen, Thomas’ thought about unityMathilde van Dijk, Thomas a Kempis and his sources
  • 12.00-13.00: lunch
  • 13.00-15.15: Session 2
    Geordan Hammond, Manchester Wesley Research Centre, on Thomas and WesleyPeter Zimmerling, Universität Leipzig, Thomas en BonhoefferCarlos Diego Arenas Pacheco, South Bend, Indigenous translations in Nahuatl, Chinese and Japanese
  • 15.15-15.45: Break
  • 15.45-17.45: Session 3
    Benjamin Wright, University of Notre Dame, ManuscriptsJan van de Kamp, A ban on printing in New England in 1668. A unique case within the reception history of the ImitatioChris Bellitto (Kean University and Brill) zooms in.
  • 19.00: Dinner at Kleine Kruisstraat 20a, 9712 TW Groningen

Tuesday 29th, Board Room

  • 9.30-11.00: Session 4
    Ad Poirters, Titus Brandsma Instituut Nijmegen, reception in Early Modern Catholicism- Helen Wilcox, University of Bangor, on Thomas and English Literature
  • 11.00-11.15: Break
  • 11.15-11.45: Session 5
    Mathilde van Dijk, Epilogue forecast & practical matters
  • 11.45-12.45: Lunch
  • 13.18: Departure for Zwolle
  • 14.30-16.30: City walk & visit grave Thomas a Kempis
  • 16.30: Closure
The Pairs

The pairs

Please note: I will share your articles with all participants, but, as discussed, it would be lovely if each of you took on somebody else’s to start the discussion. We had an even number, but as one of us had to pull out, it is no longer possible to assign everybody to one other person. Is there somebody who would take me on? Here are the pairs:

  • Caspers/respondent Poirters
  • ?/respondent Van Dijk
  • Hammond/respondent Wilcox
  • Zimmerling/respondent Arenas Pacheco
  • Arenas Pacheco/respondent Zimmerling
  • Wright/respondent Caspers
  • Van Dijk/respondent Wright
  • Poirters/respondent Van de Kamp
  • Van de Kamp/respondent Van Dijk
  • Wilcox/respondent Hammond
Last modified:14 June 2023 3.46 p.m.

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