Conference on Cistercian and Monastic Studies Update

We’ve gathered all the abstracts and set up the panels for the Conference on Cistercian and Monastic Studies for May 2017. We have eleven panels planned: six will be part of the International Congress on Medieval Studies and five will be exclusive to the Cistercian Conference.

CCMS 2017 program

ICMS Sessions

The Intersection of Material and Spiritual Culture in Medieval Monasticism

Matthew Ponesse – Lessons from the cloister? The location of the monastic school in early Benedictine monasticism

Daniel La Corte – Aquatic Spirituality: The Aqua-culture and spirituality in the thought of the early Cistercians

Jason Crow – Reading Aelred of Rievaulx’s Architectural Metaphors by the Letter

Presider:  Paul Lockey


Pseudo-Bernard: The Writers, Works, and Readers

Elias Dietz –  Major Questions in the Study of Pseudo-Bernard Works as Exemplified by the Instructio sacerdotalis and the Tractatus de statu virtutum

Joshua Lim – On Pseudo-Bernard’s Tractatus de praecipuis mysteriis nostrae religionis

Breanna Nickel –  Pseudo-Bernard’s Tractatus de statu virtutum in Translation: Composition, Content, and “Bernardine” Themes

Presider:  Anne Astell


Memory and Memory Aids in Twelfth-Century Cistercian Writing

Marvin Döbler – Memory and Mnemonic Devices in Bernard of Clairvaux’s and Aelred of Rievaulx’s Sermons

Marsha Dutton and Margery Lange –  The Formation of Historical Memory in the Works of Aelred of Rievaulx

Ilinca Tanaseanu-Döbler – Multiformi disponens distinctione: Rhetorical Structure and Mnemonic Devices in Thomas the Cistercian’s Commentary on the Canticle

Presider:  Elias Dietz


The Cistercian and Monastic Inspiration for the Reformation: On the Occasion of the Five-Hundredth Anniversary of Luther’s Theses

Aage Rydstrøm-Poulsen – “Bernhardus ist uber alle Doctores in Ecclesia, wenn er predigt…” (Martin Luther)

Else Marie Wiberg Pedersen –  “I here but follow the holy Bernard of Clairvaux in his book On Consideration

Rose Marie Tillisch – The two monasteries of Grimma and their impact on the Lutheran Reformation

Klaus Wollenberg – The “case” Fuerstenfeld (campus principum) and Luther’s Theses

Presider:  Marvin Döbler


Cistercian Abbeys of Brittany

Joëlle Quaghebeur –  Les abbayes cisterciennes de Bretagne au XIIe siècle: lieux de prières et sentinelles politiques

Yves Gallet –  Acceptation et refus de la modernité stylistique dans l’architecture cistercienne. L’exemple de la Bretagne

Alexandra Gajewski –  Le Relecq Abbey: Constructing Uniformity on the Margins of the Christian World

Presider:  K. Paul Evans


Teaching Monasticism:  Panel

Virginia Blanton; Rabia Gregory; Maureen McGrane; Alkuin Schachenmayr and Judith Sutera

Presider:  Stefano Mula


Non- ICMS sessions

Monks and the World: Political and Economic Activities

Ryszard Gron – St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the Crusades

Francesco Capitummio –  Saint George’s Abbey in Gratteri – The First Cistercian Settlement in the Kingdom of Sicily?

Ralf Lützelschwab – Pope Clement VI (1342-52) as reformer of the Cistercian Order

Presider:  Jean Truax


Monastic Theology and Sermons

Glenn E. Myers – Adapting the Monastic Threefold Way: The Synthesis of Apophatic Darkness and the Existential Dark Night in the Sermons of Johannes Taule

Rev. Paul E. Lockey –  The Theology of the Tree of Life in On the Apocalypse by Geoffrey of Auxerre

Fr. Placid Morris –  Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s Practical Christology in his Ascension Sermons

Nathaniel Peters – The Trinitarian Dimensions of Cistercian Eucharistic Theology

Presider:  Marsha Dutton


Monastic Lives

Jean A. Truax – The Wrong Side of History: Thomas Becket and Aelred of Rievaulx

Chad Turner – Ninian and the Rod of Aaron

Katherine Richman –  Exemplum as History: The Worlds of a Cistercian Nun

Presider:  Martha Kreig


Dubious Sources in Monastic History

Brian Patrick McGuire – The First Life of Bernard: Can we trust it?

Father Alcuin Schachenmayr – Popular Perceptions of Cistercians vs. Trappists in late 19th Century Austria

Stefano Mula –  Mortifera salutacio. Herbert of Torres’ version of the Devil’s Letter

Presider:  Anne Lester


Spirituality in Monastic Life

Isaac Slater –  “The Word Runs Swiftly”: the Symbolism of “Running” in Bernard and William

Very Rev. Dr. Luke Anderson –  Early Symptoms of Humanism in Bernard’s de Deligendo Deo

Greg Peters – The “Paradise of Inner Pleasure”: The “Monastery” in Medieval Monastic Spirituality

Presider:  Hugh Feiss


We’re delighted at the response and excited to hear all these papers. We do not have a final plan for the days and times of each panel yet.  We will post the final schedule early in 2017. A reminder that anyone who wishes to attend needs to register for the International Congress on Medieval Studies.  The site will open in February (  As always, please contact us with questions at


Call for Papers, Conference On Cistercian and Monastic Studies, 2017

Call for Papers

Conference on Cistercian and Monastic Studies

Western Michigan University

May 11-14, 2017

The Conference on Cistercian and Monastic Studies invites papers for its annual meeting, which is held concurrently with the International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS).[1]  While papers which fit into the themes below are encouraged, all papers on Cistercian Studies or, more broadly, monastic studies, which cover any time period will be seriously considered for the conference.

Cistercian Abbeys of Brittany

Cistercian Liturgy and History

Cistercian Manuscripts Lost and Found

Cistercian Saints’ Lives and Exempla: Historical Sources?

Issues in Cistercian and Monastic Studies

Memory and Memory Aids in 12th Century Cistercian Writing

Monks and the World:  The Political and Economic Activities of Medieval Cistercian Monasteries

Pseudo-Bernard: The Writers, Works, and Readers

Teaching Monasticism in the Academy and the Abbey

The Cistercian and Monastic Inspiration for the Reformation, On Occasion of the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s Theses

The Influence of Cistercian Writing on Vernacular Authors

The Intersection of Material and Spiritual Culture in Medieval Monasticism

Address questions to the Center for Cistercian and Monastic Studies (  Send abstracts and participant information forms ( to the same email address by September 1, 2016 for full consideration.

[1] Some sessions are a part of the ICMS program, while others are exclusively a part of the Cistercian Conference.  Organizers cannot guarantee that a participant’s paper will be a part of the ICMS program.

ICMS Call for Papers is Published

The ICMS Call for Papers has just been published.  You can see it here:  Sneak Preview

We were awarded six sessions:

Cistercian Liturgy and History

The Intersection of Material and Spiritual Culture in Medieval Monasticism

Cistercian Abbeys of Brittany [co-sponsored with the Ancient Abbeys of Brittany Project]

Memory and Memory Aids in Twelfth-Century Cistercian Writing

Pseudo-Bernard: The Writers, Works,and Readers

The Cistercian and Monastic Inspiration for the Reformation: On the Occasion of the Five-Hundredth Anniversary of Luther’s Theses

This list is a combination of sessions requested by the Congress administration and sessions which the Board chose for various reasons. .

We will be planning to have additional “extra-Congressional” sessions again this year. Please do prepare paper abstracts and send them in by September 1.  I look forward to your submissions!

Further details will be forthcoming when I return from this trip.  Right now, I am in Passau, still working on CCMS projects.  Tschuss!

Sue Steuer

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 update; sessions submitted to International Congress on Medieval Studies

963951_10200693545834750_1031358324_oThe response to our call for session proposals was wonderful!  We received 12 proposals, which is the maximum number we can submit and the CCMS Advisory Board was very pleased with the thoughtfulness and quality of the proposals.  The application was submitted to ICMS yesterday.  Now we will await the decision of their committee.  Thanks to everyone for their work!

Listed below are the titles we submitted.  More information will be forthcoming once we hear from ICMS, which will be several weeks from now.  In the meantime, please consider whether you would like to submit a paper to one of these sessions, or volunteer to help organize or chair.  We want to encourage everyone to be involved.

Cistercian Liturgy and History

Cistercian Manuscripts Lost and Found

The Influence of Cistercian Writing on Vernacular Authors

Cistercian Saints’ Lives and Exempla: Historical Sources?

The Intersection of Material and Spiritual Culture in Medieval Monasticism

Cistercian Abbeys of Brittany

Memory and Memory Aids in 12th Century Cistercian Writing

Monks and the World:  The Political and Economic Activities of Medieval Cistercian Monasteries

Pseudo-Bernard: The Writers, Works, and Readers

The Cistercian and Monastic Inspiration for the Reformation, On Occasion of the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s Theses

Issues in Cistercian and Monastic Studies

Teaching Monasticism in the Academy and the Abbey

Please do contact me with any questions or comments at the Center’s email address,

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.

2016 Cistercian and Monastic Studies Annual Report

Summary: In August 2015, Dr. Rozanne Elder retired as Director of CCMS. In October 2015, Dr. Susan Steuer was named Interim Director, assigned to CCMS for seven hours per week until August 2017. The Center’s ongoing existence and its placement within WMU’s administration is in some doubt because its two primary assets, Cistercian Publications and the greater part of the book and manuscript collection (on loan from Gethsemani Abbey), are no longer affiliated with WMU, though a number of small loan collections from other houses remain. Steuer has tried to affirm these relationships and bring CCMS operations in line with WMU procedures and policies, as well as organize the office in a new location.


The International Congress on Medieval Studies (ICMS) granted six panels to the Conference this year, down from twelve in 2015. An additional three independent panels will be held at the Lee Honors College on Thursday, and the ICMS panels will be held Friday and Saturday. Looking forward, a new model for the CCMS panel planning will be attempted this spring to align procedures more closely with ICMS practices. Because the CCMS panels often discuss issues in monasticism which are chronologically outside of the scope of the ICMS, a day of separate panels may be ongoing. This year, a panel was developed with Dr. Diane Riggs (Comparative Religion) on silence in different monastic traditions.

Liturgical services which have traditionally been offered in conjunction with ICMS are being facilitated through CCMS. Steuer has been approached by Orthodox practitioners about providing options for them as well. This may be explored for 2017. Officiants are organized by the interested groups and CCMS organizes service materials, books and liturgical equipment and supplies.

Advisory Board and Outreach

For several years, CCMS has had an advisory board composed of scholars, and monks and nuns from outside of WMU. This Board has no formal charge or mission and no plans for transition of membership, and these issues will be approached this year. The Board traditionally meets during the CCMS conference. One member has stepped down, Dr. Elizabeth Freeman. Dr. Anne Lester has agreed to join the Board in Dr. Freeman’s place this year and nominations for additional members will be solicited, as needed. The goal is to maintain a balance between academics and religious on this board to reflect the traditional strengths of CCMS.

During the past year, Steuer has visited four monasteries: St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA; St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN (primarily speaking with librarians); Mount St. Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, MA; and Valley of Our Lady Monastery, Prairie du Sac, WI. This has been primarily to introduce Steuer, discuss loan collections and find out the interests and concerns of these organizations. Steuer has also visited several libraries regarding collaboration and advice on digital projects.

Certificate in Monastic Movements

This certificate, which currently requires 18 hours of coursework and Medieval Latin, is in the process of being reevaluated so that the certificate has broader appeal and can include other historical periods. This has been tabled to some extent while issues with the M.A. in Medieval Studies are addressed. The certificate is envisioned to include both eastern and western monastic traditions. Steuer discussed ways the certificate can work with existing strengths in Buddhist monasticism in Comparative Religion with Dr. Steven Covell and Dr. Diane Riggs. A study abroad course on European monasticism is in development, to complement an existing course which visits monasteries in Japan. There seems to be a need for courses to serve monastic communities for formation (particularly for women’s houses), such as the history of the Bible. Further work on the potential audience and marketing for these courses is planned, and they would most likely be offered as asynchronous distance or hybrid courses.

Research Projects

Monastic (formerly Cistercian) Gazetteer. This semantic-web based project has been supported through a FRACAA during the past academic year. $5000 was transferred to MI, as Research Assistant Mallory Heslinger worked extensively on this project and a graduate student in Computer Engineering, Mitul Patell. She will be employed over the summer. A linked-data ontology has been developed for the project and planning for an NEH submission and a Mellon submission is in development in partnership with the WMU Libraries (Sheila Bair), the Upjohn Center for Geographic Change (Kathleen Baker) and the Department of Computer Science (Ala Al-Fuqaha). Bair and Steuer also met with digital scholarship and geography experts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. They discussed ways that the proposed map-based interface can be designed to work smoothly with HMML collections with their staff. An advisory board is being considered and additional meetings will be held regarding the project during the CCMS conference.

Janauschek Portal: This transcription project is currently being developed in a wiki format, but is on hold due to funding issues and because the nineteenth-century German handwriting is outside of the strengths of CCMS. The advisory board for this project (P. Alkuin Schachenmayer, Cornelia Oefelein and Frank Sasama in Germany and Steuer and Elder in the U.S.) has been exploring ways to develop this project using student labor in Germany, where there is more familiarity with the handwriting conventions. The nature of this project links very well with the Gazetteer, so there is an ongoing interest in keeping CCMS involved.

Cistopedia is a website developed by a group in Germany, which is looking for an institutional home for the project. It is a treasure trove of information on the Cistercian Order. Frank Sasama would like WMU to take this over, but it would require financial support for maintenance and updating.

Other projects

Clean up from the Gethsemani deaccession (which was held by WMU by virtue of CCMS) continues. The removal of some 1800+ items from the library occurred in the midst of a transition to a new integrated library system, causing significant problems in removing records. Incorrect records and uncataloged materials were also discovered during this process. CCMS assigned graduate students have evaluated items for cataloging revision in preparation for a major shelving shift following the deaccession, as well as reviewing collections for materials which may have been missed during the process (a handful).
Obrecht Manuscript catalog was submitted to MIP in Fall 2015 and Steuer completed correspondence with the copy editor, who seems to have done a very thorough job, about April 1. A bound mock-up was available during the conference.

Letters of agreement are being developed with monasteries which still have materials on deposit which will be with the WMU Libraries. Additional letters of commitment are being prepared for the Region.

Submitted by Dr. Susan Steuer
May 5, 2016