Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Medieval -- Disciplina Dell'anima, Disciplina del Corpo E Disciplina Della Societa Tra Medioevo Ed ETA Moderna Edited by Paolo Prodi with the Collaboration of Carla Penuti

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Medieval -- Disciplina Dell'anima, Disciplina del Corpo E Disciplina Della Societa Tra Medioevo Ed ETA Moderna Edited by Paolo Prodi with the Collaboration of Carla Penuti

Article excerpt

Disciplina dell'anima disciplina del corpo e disciplina della societa tra madioevo ed eta moderna. Edited by Paolo Prodi with the collaboration of Carla Penuti.

Annali dell'Istituto storico italo-germanico, Quaderno 40.

(Bologna: Societa editrice il Mulino. 1994. Pp. 963. Lire 80,000 paperback.)

This large volume brings together thirty-three papers arising from a conference held at Bologna in 1993. The contributions, by Italian and German scholars almost exclusively, all appear in Italian. Some are over-long, insufficiently focused, and might have benefited from greater editorial intervention, to remove the impression of a postgraduate desire to elaborate bibliographical references rather than engage in critical, selective presentation of a precise argument. But within the volume there are also some very valuable papers. The starting-point of most of the contributions, indeed, is the argument that a medieval concept of discipline, originally a monastic procedure, it is suggested, for inculcating self-discipline in fact in novices, was gradually extended in the later Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the early modern period to non-monastic groups and individuals, eventually to whole parts of a society and to entire societies. Not all the writers agree that the courts of rulers came to play a different, additional role in this extension, but most accept, were appropriate, that the Renaissance introduced new emphases of an educational nature into the concept of discipline, distinct from either a monastic or a 'courtly' tradition of the Middle Ages. After the introduction of Paolo Prodi himself, a first section concentrates on questions of methodology, some of it rather abstract, though the name of Foucault also inevitably occurs, as naturally enough throughout the volume.

The second section of the book begins with the clearly outstanding contribution of Adriano Prosperi, which provides a much-needed examination, conducted with his usual exemplary precision and insight, of the relationship between the Inquisition and clerics administering the sacrament of confession, in this case essentially in Counter-Reformation Italy. …

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