CFP, Cistercian Carta Caritatis

Father Joseph has asked that we help publicize his session at the International Congress on Medieval Studies.  Please send him appropriate abstracts before the deadline!

The Cistercian Carta Caritatis (1)

Contact: Joseph Van House
350 Cistercian Rd
Irving TX 75039
Phone: (214) 718-1555

The call for papers for ICMS is now available at


Planning for 2019

Six sessions sponsored by the Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies (CCMS) have been accepted to the International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS).  One panel has been accepted as a CCMS-only panel.  The CCMS organizing committee is pleased and welcomes submissions to the panels listed below.  Please review the information and consider submitting:

  1.  an abstract and the ICMS Participant Information Form (available here  in July) for those sessions with room for more participants, or
  2. if you are willing to be considered for non-ICMS sessions, you can also use the CCMS form.

CCMS does not guarantee consideration of materials sent by replying to CCMS emails.


Rewriting Cistercian exempla between the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century (accepting papers)

Recent years have seen the publications of translations (The Great Beginning of Cîteaux) and critical editions of Cistercian exempla (Collectaneum exemplorum ac visionum Clarevallense; Collectio Exemplorum Cisterciensis; Liber visionum et miraculorum Clarevallensium). It is then important and timely to explore the role of exempla more in depth and from different perspectives. This session will focus on how these short, exemplary stories were used, rewritten and retold inside and outside the order.

Bernard’s De Consideratione and its Afterlife  (accepting papers)

Bernard of Clairvaux’s De Consideratione, addressed to his protege Pope Eugene III, enjoyed a rich after-life. It influenced the angelology, moral and sacramental theology of Alexander of Hales and in different ways, provided both Dante and Martin Luther with a rhetorical model for challenging the pope and advancing a bold vision of ecclesiastical reform. The panel will explore the different ways Alexander, Dante and Luther received and redeployed Bernard’s provocative epistolary treatise.

St. Gertrude the Great, Orthodoxy, Originality and Universality of her doctrine (accepting papers)

Since 2012 the Benedictine and Cistercian Orders move forward the joint project of the Nomination of St. Gertrude as a Doctor of the Church. That title means the recognition of her teaching as eminent doctrine, standard involving the aspects of orthodoxy, originality, universality, opportunity, currency and a broad influence of her writings over the centuries. This panel focuses in the three features mention at first: Orthodoxy indicates that her doctrine refers to main aspects of the Christian Faith, in full concordance and continuity with the Scriptural, Patristic and Medieval tradition; originality implies that her teaching marks a progress in the comprehension of the content of the faith or proposes a single and peculiar way of access to it; and universality means that her doctrine applies to every age, every culture and every ambiance in the Church, because it concerns both the divine revelation and what is truly human. In promoting these panels the Committee looks to awake the interest of the scholarly community towards the Nomination of St. Gertrude as a Doctor of the Church, as well as to foster local contributions about its writings in the wide fields of theology, philosophy, history, linguistic and literary studies.

The Monastic and Early Scholastic Theology – More Likeness Than Difference? (accepting papers)

After Jean Leclercq’s L’amour des lettres et le désir de Dieu from 1957 it has been generally accepted in medieval research in history of theology to draw a clear distinction between the theology written by monks and the theology written by clerics and teachers “in the world”. Thus, modern investigations can notice the difference between the experience of the monastics and the speculation of the schoolmen, the different view on the relationship between faith and reason, the difference between the humility of the former and the pride of the latter, the difference between the affectus (feeling or taste) of the divine and the dialectic of the latter, which all lead to “… le divorce de la théologie et de la spiritualité” (Denis Cazes, La théologie sapientielle de Guillaume de Saint-Thierry, 2009, pp. 803ff and 841f). The condemnations e.g. of Peter Abélard in 1121 and 1140 are most clear evidence of the different standpoints of the monastic critics and the rational speculations of a schoolman.

The suggested panel seeks to challenge this otherwise well documented analysis of the theological landscape of the 12th century. Contributions are invited which want to show that there can be more likeness than difference between the two worlds of theological thought. Just an example could be the commentaries on Romans by the schoolman Peter Abélard and the monastic William of Saint-Thierry. Another issue could be the interest in Christian philosophy in the monasteries. One planned contribution would deal with the interpretation of the famous verse 5:5 of the Letter to the Romans in which the typical monastic reading (the identification of the Holy Spirit with the human caritas) is shared by a considerable number of schoolmen (following Peter Lombard’s theory in Dist. 1:17) but also finds critics both among schoolmen and theologians from the monastic world.

Floral Metaphors in the Material and Spiritual Culture in Medieval Monasticism (fully booked)

Inspired by sessions from the 2016 and 2017 Cistercian Conferences the presenters would like to explore the role that gardening metaphors play in the understanding and experience of spirituality for medieval monks and nuns. Simply put we shall investigate how monks and nuns employed metaphors of planting, grafting, flowering, and gardening to interconnect their experience of the material world with their spiritual life. The first presenter will focus on Carolingian manuscripts. (Matthew Ponesse, Ohio Dominican). This paper will explore the use of floral metaphors in the organization and production of ninth-century manuscript compilations. The second paper will examine images of flowers in early Cistercian manuscripts, and will highlight the spiritual connections made between flora, wine, and medicine. (Dan M. La Corte). The third paper will investigate Aaron’s rod, flowering trees and fruit as metaphors for the Resurrection in the writings of Aelred of Rievaulx. (Jason Crow, Monash University). The fourth paper will explore the work of Monastic gardening in parallel with the idea of the Garden of Eden in the writings of Hildegard of Bingen. (Rose Marie Tillisch, Strandmarkskirken)

Aelred of Rievaulx and the Dramatic  (fully booked)

Scholars frequently write of Aelred of Rievaulx as a teacher who creates formal situations within which and audiences for whom he can teach. What has been less remarked upon is the variety of dramatic forms he uses as pedagogical tools, sometimes formal dialogues, at other times extended responses to questions he says he has been asked. Most of his treatises are lively narratives in which groups of figures play leading roles, with individuals emerging from the groups to become active participants, often identified by name, occupation, and even physical appearance.

But general neglect of the conscious literary skill and pedagogical purpose with which Aelred incorporates such prominent narrative and dramatic elements into his works has frequently misled scholars into taking at face value the validity of his occasional claims to literary and rhetorical incompetence. This view of Aelred as an untutored and therefore necessarily unskilled writer relies to some extent on both Saint Bernard’s letter saying that Aelred claimed to come to the monastery “from the kitchen, not the school” (the Prologue to Aelred’s Speculum caritatis) and Walter Daniel’s explanation that Aelred had not sat before a master but was instead self-taught (Vita Aelredi).

This panel is designed to highlight the conscious literary and pedagogical skill with which Aelred incorporates dramatic elements into his treatises providing instruction in Christian doctrine and life. It will pay particular attention to the way he uses characterization, invented speeches, and narrative structure in his works. It seeks to understand the way in which the power of his teaching resides in his rhetorical method as well as in the theological acumen of the ideas he conveys with that method.

​CCMS panel

Contemporary Studies in Saint Bernard in Honor of Father Luke Anderson, OCist (fully booked)

The prominence of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153) in the survival and then astonishing growth of the Cistercian Order from the twelfth century to today has been a central topic among Cistercian scholars over the past fifty years. Among the best known and best loved of those scholars, especially among participants in the annual Cistercian Studies Conference, is Fr. Luke Anderson, OCist. Fr. Luke’s commitment to exploring and explaining the Bernardine teaching of his treatises and his sermons has shaped several generations of young Cistercian scholars.

This panel is open-ended in its definition, focusing on Saint Bernard and on the contributions Fr. Luke has made to the study of Bernard over these years. Its central purpose is to honor Fr. Luke.

Deadlines and links for 2019 Conference on Cistercian and Monastic Studies Conference

We’ve had a great 2018 CCMS Conference.  Now it’s time to plan for next year.

Proposing panels and papers for 2019

All submissions will need to use the online form



DUE on May 29, 2018 by 5 pm

Use this link:  Submit a panel proposal



DUE on September 1, 2018 by 5 pm

Use this link:  Paper Submission



Panel proposals will be reviewed by the board and sent on to the International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS) for consideration.  ICMS will decide how many and which Conference on Cistercian and Monastic Studies (CCMS) panels will be included in the Congress schedule.  Other panels will be part of CCMS.  Both sets of panels will make up the Conference.

Abstracts submitted will be forwarded to the organizers of our planned sessions or, if they do not fit into planned sessions, considered for ad hoc sessions if time slots are available.  Any papers we cannot accommodate will be forwarded to ICMS for consideration for panels outside the conference.

Staying updated:

If you wish to receive various updates about this conference or the Center’s activities, please register for our email list here


If you want to register for dinner this early, here is the link:

Cistercian Dinner 2019


Other panels of interest to Cistercian Studies

Dr. Rozaanne Elder has kindly noted the following panels also of interest to scholars of Cistercian Studies:



The Twelfth Century
Presider: John Howe, Texas Tech Univ.

Abbeys “On Top”: Monasteries’ Responses to Conflict in Twelfth-Century Local English Chronicles
Stephanie Skenyon, Univ. of Miami

The Fall of Icarus, or, How Abelard’s Son Joined the Cistercians
Brenda M. Cook, Independent Scholar

Death and Its Aftermath in the Middle Ages
Christene d’Anca, Univ. of California–Santa Barbara



Alternative Aspects of Medieval Pilgrimage (A Panel Discussion)
Sponsor: Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (CeSMA), Univ. of Birmingham
Organizer: John Seasholtz, Univ. of Birmingham
Presider: Iona McCleery, Univ. of Leeds

Pilgrimage Routes to the Shrine of Saint Æthelthryth at Ely
Ian Styler, Univ. of Birmingham

Cistercian Deterrants to Lay Pilgrimage in the Twelfth Century
Georgina Fitzgibbon, Univ. of Birmingham

Evolution of Pilgrim Towns along the Camino de Santiago
John Seasholtz

Sanctity in the Middle Ages
Presider: Jessica Barr, Univ. of Massachusetts–Amherst

Proving the Dead
Jessica C. Brown, Adams State Univ.

No Delectable Fare: Food and the Rhetoric of Consumption in Cistercian Literature
Lindsey Moser, Univ. of Auckland

Conversion Stories and the Construction of Heretics and Saints in the Middle Ages
Adam Hoose, Troy Univ.

Body Trouble in St. Erkenwald
Aparna Chaudhuri, Harvard Univ.


See you soon!

2017 Conference Program

2017 CCMS program

I have heard that our conference schedules and dinner reservation schedules have arrived at their destinations in Europe and the US, but if you did not get a hard copy, here is a PDF.  As a side note, the schedule was put together by a graphic design student here at WMU.  Please contact if you need further information.

P.S.  The Lee Honors College, where the Thursday and Friday sessions will be held can be seen on this map

On the Road

For the past five days, I have been traveling through Austria (via Windsor, Toronto and Barcelona) to develop a study-abroad course for upper level undergraduates and M.A. students, which will support our Certificate in Monastic Studies.

Thus far, I have been to Heiligenkreuz and Zwettl, two active monasteries in Austria which were founded in the twelfth century.  I hope to bring students to Heiligenkreuz for several days, since it is not only a wonderful place to experience the liturgy, but also teaches theology.  Zwettl has a fantastic library, as well as a beautiful church and location.  I’ve also been walking around Vienna to visit other monastic churches.

During the next couple of weeks, I’ll combine course development visits, work on our Monastic Gazetteer and Janauschek portal and a little vacation.  I’ll be here near Vienna for a day or two more, then in the area of Passau for a week, take a break to visit family in the Westerwald, then travel north near Hildesheim.  I hope to learn a lot!

Neil Chase is still available to answer any questions about the Cistercian Studies Library materials.  You can contact me by email at

Sue Steuer, Interim Director



2017 Conference Planning

As outlined in the previous post, the Conference on Cistercian and Monastic Studies will be adapting its planning process this year.  The goal of these changes is to work more efficiently within the existing process of the International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS), while retaining the stature of the Conference (CCMS) as a distinct international academic gathering.  The link below leads to a brief document which outlines the process as it is currently envisioned.  This does not mean that we will not need to adapt to developments as we work with these changes, but it provides us with a place to start.

The most significant change is that we are asking our regular attenders to come up with some topics and brief rationales for sessions they would like to develop and serve as organizers.  These sessions will be discussed by the CCMS advisory board submitted for inclusion in 2017 ICMS.  Some sessions outside of ICMS are also anticipated.

Planning process: 2017 Conference on Cistercian and Monastic Studies

Please do contact the office if you have any questions at  Our phone is only covered intermittently at this time, so email is the best way to reach someone.