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29 | 2022 – Shameful memory

European Christians faced with their embarrassing pasts (from the Middle Ages to the present day)

Collective memories seem to focus primarily on events that are perceived positively by the memory-bearing groups, particularly in the context of Christian communities. Testifying to the fulfilment of a providential plan or to the faithfulness of believers to God in spite of difficulties, the facts memorised are generally honourable. However, some acts committed by Christians may embarrass their co-religionists years or centuries later, such as the St. Bartholomew's Day, denounced in 2015 by Pope Francis, more than four centuries after the celebration of the slaughter by Gregory XIII. The way in which the acts of the fathers in the faith are viewed can also vary within the same period according to social groups, as Philippe Joutard has shown. Shame about past episodes is therefore a historical phenomenon, with varied origins and felt differently over time and according to the actors.

This emotion aroused by a fact deemed dishonourable is primarily individual but can also, like memory, be studied on a group level when it is widely shared. The collective shame felt in the face of cumbersome episodes in the community's past may leave only faint traces, which makes their study more complex and explains why they have, on the whole, remained outside the scope of research. This study day, centred on Christianity in Europe (and its colonial extensions), aims to explore them over the long term, from the Middle Ages to the present day.

30 | 2023 – Controversy for everyone ?

Marginal forms and methods of confrontation between Catholics and Reformed (France, 1598-1685)

The controversy between Catholics and Reformed in France under the Edict of Nantes (1598-1685) is well known, but only partially known. In fact, alongside famous confrontations, studied by researchers and perfectly documented by archives and publications, featuring prestigious theologians on both sides, other disputes have remained more confidential, even though their literary or social importance may have been decisive for a large number of the lay people. These were « popularised » controversies, but sometimes of a low intellectual level, precisely in order to be within the reach of the greatest number of people, and with intense methodological reflection on the best way to defeat the adversary and allow everyone to understand this victory.

These controversies have remained relatively marginal, and it’s therefore a question here of launching research tracks in this dossier, the aim of which is thus to focus attention for once on the social and literary forms that a controversy can take, often disregarded because it’s not prestigious enough (including for the credit and reputation of its participants), or else too local, too vehement, too sensitive to the use of insults, too accessible to all (which is in itself a subject of controversy).

The dossier will include four articles with literary issues, and four with social issues.

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