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Announcement workshop "Rhythm in the Middle Ages" by Prof. Jean-Claude Schmitt (EHESS)

12 September 2017

The Netherlands Research School for Medieval Studies organize a masterclass with Professor Jean-Claude Schmitt (EHESS, Paris) together with Dr Babette Hellemans (RUG) on Wednesday 4 October in Groningen.

The masterclass is open for Research Master students and PhD candidates.

Deadline for applications: 15 September 2017

Jean-Claude Schmitt is a prominent French medievalist associated with the work of the Annales School. He published extensively on the socio-cultural aspects of medieval history in Western Europe and has made important contributions in his use of anthropological and art historical methods to interpret history. His most recent work deals with the notion of rhythm in medieval life: Les rythmes au Moyen Âge (2016). But he has also published on themes in the realm of religious culture, where he has focused on ideas and topics such as superstition, the occult and heresy. He has also written widely on preaching, the cult of saints, the idea of adolescence, visions and dreams, gestures and images. He has contributed to numerous books, articles and encyclopedia entries on these and related topics.

Among Schmitt's best known works translated in English are The Holy Greyhound (1983), about the strange cult of a holy dog in medieval France, and Ghosts in the Middle Ages (1998) about notions of death, the afterlife and paranormal visions in medieval culture and The Conversion of Herman the Jew (2010) on historical method, individuality and subjectivity. All these works are considered important examples of "historical anthropology," or the use of methods and approaches borrowed from anthropology and other social sciences to investigate the past. Schmitt has argued that this has helped correct for the tendency among medievalists in the past to focus on elites, political institutions and narrative history to the exclusion of less well-documented experiences of life.

Schmitt is currently Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, where he directed from 1992 to 2014 the Groupe d'Anthropologie Historique de l'Occident Médiéval. Since 2009, he is the president of the scientific board of Campus Condorcet, a large interdisciplinary research complex for social sciences that should open in 2019 in the North of Paris.


Participants are expected to write a short essay (max. 1500 words) on Jean-Claude Schmitt’s article: 'A History of Rhythms during the Middle Ages', in: Medieval History Journal, vol. XV, Nr. 1 (2012), pp. 1-24, in which they use the article to reflect on broader themes in medieval cultural and anthropological history, eventually related to their own ongoing research.

N.B.: Students who read French are warmly invited to write a referee report on Schmitt’s most recent book Les rythmes au Moyen Âge (Gallimard: Paris 2016).

Essays should be handed in by 27 October 2017.

Credits: 1 ECT


Deadline applications: 15 September 2017 via

Masterclass: 4 October 2017, University of Groningen, 12.00-16.00 (followed by drinks).

Deadline essays: 27 October 2017 via

Last modified:12 September 2017 4.15 p.m.

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