Centre Project 2002-2007


The Centre project interprets important parts of European culture as a heritage from the ritual practices of the medieval Latin Church. A medieval complex of theological ideas and ritual practices is seen to have a dynamic and constructive potential and to resurface in transformed ways in later cultural practices, which in modern scholarship are described by means of aesthetic terminologies. Thereby the Centre project sheds new light on multifaceted historical processes which have too often been understood only as belonging to a process of secularization. Aspects of medieval culture which appear to be incommensurable with their modern counterparts are thus drawn into the interpretation of modern culture, involving, e.g., a consideration of the resignification of artistic creation in its interplay with the changing institutional conditions of its production, the sacralization of artistic genres, and the aestheticization of political and religious practices.


The project is built on reception historical hermeneutics, not the least referring to Paul Ricoeur. Historical generalizations and grand narratives of the kind outlined above, are balanced by what we refer to as polyphony: the construction of a historical narrative through a number of sub-voices that do not depend on each other materially, ideologically, or in individual methodology. The project builds on seven specially designed sub-projects:


  • The Nave and the Spire: The Gothic Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower in Literature and the Visual Arts 1887–1921 (Stephanie Moore Glaser)
  • Musica religiosa around 1800 in Copenhagen (Heinrich W. Schwab and Nils Holger Petersen)
  • “Praxis pietatis” and the Use of the Arts in the Lutheran Tradition (16th to 18th Century) (Sven Rune Havsteen)
  • The Aesthetics of Liturgical Music 1450−1650 (Eyolf Østrem)
  • Cistercian Ideals of Ritual and Spirituality and the Seventeenth-Century Revival of the Cistercian Ethos of the Twelfth Century (Mette Birkedal Bruun)
  • Acceptance, Rejection, Creation: The Gothic Cathedral of Trondheim and its Intellectual and Political Context (Margrete Syrstad Andås).
  • Lucca, Biblioteca Capitolare, ms. 608: An Edition with Commentary of a thirteenth-century Tuscan ordinarium (Jeremy Llewellyn)


This is supplemented by other contributions through conferences and publications. The whole project thus involves theology, musicology, literature, drama, and visual arts in an interdisciplinary complex contextualized within the modern discourses of cultural studies, interarts studies, and medievalism.