The course addresses a multidisciplinary and, at the same time, neglected topic in the history of Late Antiquity: the complex developments in the theories of legitimacies of power. Key concepts are the Empire and the Church, and their rivalry can be formulated as the struggle between the “kingdom of God” and earthly power, or in modern terms, the sacred and the secular. Various strategies had been evolved concerning this relationship, the Hellenistic, the Jewish, the various Christian ideas, and at the end of the period, the absolute theocracy of Islam. The subject has many subfields worth exploring, from the development of the imperial cult to the early liturgies to the political theology of Byzantine historiography.
Christianity offered a dominant intellectual motivation in the period. The political character of the Church quickly became clear to the representatives of the dominant Hellenistic polity of the period, the Roman Empire. By the second half of the first century CE, the Roman authorities became aware of the threat to the legitimacy of the Empire by this new, then not legitimate religion (religio illicita).
What were the reasons for the conflict, and how did it play out in the “Long Late Antiquity”? The relation of Christianity to the political sphere was by far not simple, as the constant concern about this shows it during the two millennia. The so-called “Constantinian turn”, or rather the development of imperial orthodoxy, emerged as a contrast to the opposing trend of the rejection of the Empire, represented by the City of God by Augustine. What happened before and after the “Christian turn” of the fourth century, when Christianity moved slowly from being a persecuted “sect” to the privileged religion of the Empire? How did it impact the legitimacy of the political order, and how did this change affect Christian conceptions of the secular polity? Again, how did early Islam develop its own emphatically theocratic idea in the context of Judaism and Christianity?
Since early Islam has been long considered as part of the ‘Long Late Antiquity,’ building on the successful first summer school, which covered the interval from the formation of the Church to the times of Justinian, we decided to organize a second edition, with a wider spectrum of topics and a broader chronological span.
"The academic level of the course was high, thanks to the international board. Each professor was able to lend their expertise, presenting their topics clearly and making it accessible to everyone. This allowed each student to interact with them and with the other participants, expanding the discussion with examples derived from their specific research interests. The final result was a fruitful knowledge exchange."
[the course] "was useful, since it provided me with an important historical background concerning Political Theology. As a Philosopher, it offered me the opportunity of improving the lack of knowledge regarding historical aspects of the evolution of the Political Theology question."
"As I've been working on political theology in Late Antiquity, this course seemed to be tailor-made for my research interests. It expanded my knowledge on such a complicated topic, also taking into account how it influenced the Eastern part of the Roman/Byzantine Empire (that is something that I had rarely considered before). Then, it gave me the chance to receive useful feedback on my own research."
"[...] I think that this course was useful in the sense that it had widened my comprehension on the historical period and on the different issues raised by the specific arguments dealt in the course. In particular, the seminars and the confrontations with other students were very useful in allowing me to explore new paths of research and study."
This summer school addresses MA and PhD students with interest in the emerging field of Political Theology in Late Antiquity. Advanced BA students will also be considered.
The course requires minimal knowledge of the political and religious context of Late Antiquity. It is desirable, but not mandatory, that students have intermediate knowledge of Latin and Ancient Greek.
The language of instruction is English; thus all applicants have to demonstrate a strong command of spoken and written English to be able to participate actively in discussions at seminars and workshops.
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Below is the list of the documents you need to prepare or arrange for submission:
- Completed online SUN Application Form (see notes below)
- Full curriculum vitae or resume, including a list of publications, if any
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- Statement of Purpose (max. 1,000 words)
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- Personal Statement on Financial Aid
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Completed CEU Summer University Application Form
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