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Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World

Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World

Edited by Nicholas Howe

Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World contains original essays by five leading scholars in the fields of history, art history, and literature on the ways in which communities were imagined and built between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. These essays, which function as case studies, range geographically from Europe to Africa, the Near East to regions of Latin America. While acknowledging major factors that affect community—such as religious belief, imperial expansion, and warfare—these studies focus on precise examples and moments in the pre-modern world.

Giles Constable discusses the ways in which monastic vows of service to God served as the basis for communities of monks in Europe in the Middle Ages. Anthony Cutler explores the means by which Byzantine and Islamic communities were created and maintained through the use of visual and textual signs. Annabel Patterson draws on visual images and representations to explore how endangered Catholic communities struggled to survive in Reformation England. Richard Kagan offers a survey of city images and plans in the Hispanic world of Europe and the Americas. Pamela Sheingorn focuses on the attempts of fifteenth-century French theologian Jean Gerson to reinvent forms of religious community at a time of crisis. An introduction by Nicholas Howe places this work in its scholarly context.

The five contributors to this volume reveal the inherent complexity and variety of communities in the pre-modern world. They offer a powerful argument against sweeping generalizations about the ways in which humans form themselves into groups, and encourage further scholarly research into the ways in which communities are formed and shaped.

ISBN: 978-0-268-02862-6
192 pages
Publication Year: 2002

Nicholas Howe (1953–2006) was professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Migration and Mythmaking in Anglo-Saxon England, and editor of Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World, both published by the University of Notre Dame Press.

“The five contributors to this book reveal the inherent complexity and variety of communities in the pre-modern world. They offer an argument against sweeping generalizations about the ways in which humans form themselves into groups, and encourage further scholarly research into the ways in which communities are formed and shaped.” — Ethical Perspectives

“The essays in Visions of Community offer beautifully nuanced analyses of the ways in which various types of institutional and social identifications intersected and supplemented one another in the permodern period.” — The Sixteenth Century Journal

“The admirable objectives and themes announced in Howe’s introduction are met and illuminated. The malleable device of studying communities historically ways is done in model ways here.” — Renaissance Quarterly

“_Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World_ is an enjoyable read.”— History: Reviews of New Books

“… fascinating and provocative…." — Utopian Studies

“The five contributors to this book reveal the inherent complexity and variety of communities in the pre-modern world. They offer an argument against sweeping generalizations about the ways in which humans form themselves into groups, and encourage further scholarly research into the ways in which communities are formed and shaped.” — Ethical Perspectives

“The essays in Visions of Community offer beautifully nuanced analyses of the ways in which various types of institutional and social identifications intersected and supplemented one another in the permodern period.” — The Sixteenth Century Journal

“This is a stunning collection . . . elegant, magisterial, and persuasive. Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World contains new and impeccable scholarship in beautifully written and structured essays.” —Roberta Frank, Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of English, Yale University

“This collection is simply marvelous. I cannot remember the last time I had so positive a reaction to a collection of essays or any monograph. First-rate scholarly writing does exist after all, and this collection is the embodiment.” —Paul E. Szarmach, professor of English and Medieval Studies and Director of the Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University

“Nicholas Howe has managed the rare feat of editing a collection of essays that actually maintains the thematic unity announced in the introduction. Five major scholars evoke the strivings of people from Western Asia to the Americas to image community in the age before nations. Contrary to many nostalgic community studies, they preserve agency and contingency in their analyses, examining not only visions that succeeded, but failures at community formation and the ephemeral elements in human aspiration that no fixed vision of communal life could ever satisfy.” —Patrick J. Geary, Professor of History, UCLA

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Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World


Edited by Nicholas Howe

 Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World
Cloth Edition
Paper Edition

Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World contains original essays by five leading scholars in the fields of history, art history, and literature on the ways in which communities were imagined and built between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. These essays, which function as case studies, range geographically from Europe to Africa, the Near East to regions of Latin America. While acknowledging major factors that affect community—such as religious belief, imperial expansion, and warfare—these studies focus on precise examples and moments in the pre-modern world.

Giles Constable discusses the ways in which monastic vows of service to God served as the basis for communities of monks in Europe in the Middle Ages. Anthony Cutler explores the means by which Byzantine and Islamic communities were created and maintained through the use of visual and textual signs. Annabel Patterson draws on visual images and representations to explore how endangered Catholic communities struggled to survive in Reformation England. Richard Kagan offers a survey of city images and plans in the Hispanic world of Europe and the Americas. Pamela Sheingorn focuses on the attempts of fifteenth-century French theologian Jean Gerson to reinvent forms of religious community at a time of crisis. An introduction by Nicholas Howe places this work in its scholarly context.

The five contributors to this volume reveal the inherent complexity and variety of communities in the pre-modern world. They offer a powerful argument against sweeping generalizations about the ways in which humans form themselves into groups, and encourage further scholarly research into the ways in which communities are formed and shaped.

ISBN: 978-0-268-02862-6

192 pages

“The five contributors to this book reveal the inherent complexity and variety of communities in the pre-modern world. They offer an argument against sweeping generalizations about the ways in which humans form themselves into groups, and encourage further scholarly research into the ways in which communities are formed and shaped.” — Ethical Perspectives

“The essays in Visions of Community offer beautifully nuanced analyses of the ways in which various types of institutional and social identifications intersected and supplemented one another in the permodern period.” — The Sixteenth Century Journal

“The admirable objectives and themes announced in Howe’s introduction are met and illuminated. The malleable device of studying communities historically ways is done in model ways here.” — Renaissance Quarterly

“_Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World_ is an enjoyable read.”— History: Reviews of New Books

“… fascinating and provocative…." — Utopian Studies

“The five contributors to this book reveal the inherent complexity and variety of communities in the pre-modern world. They offer an argument against sweeping generalizations about the ways in which humans form themselves into groups, and encourage further scholarly research into the ways in which communities are formed and shaped.” — Ethical Perspectives

“The essays in Visions of Community offer beautifully nuanced analyses of the ways in which various types of institutional and social identifications intersected and supplemented one another in the permodern period.” — The Sixteenth Century Journal

“This is a stunning collection . . . elegant, magisterial, and persuasive. Visions of Community in the Pre-Modern World contains new and impeccable scholarship in beautifully written and structured essays.” —Roberta Frank, Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of English, Yale University

“This collection is simply marvelous. I cannot remember the last time I had so positive a reaction to a collection of essays or any monograph. First-rate scholarly writing does exist after all, and this collection is the embodiment.” —Paul E. Szarmach, professor of English and Medieval Studies and Director of the Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University

“Nicholas Howe has managed the rare feat of editing a collection of essays that actually maintains the thematic unity announced in the introduction. Five major scholars evoke the strivings of people from Western Asia to the Americas to image community in the age before nations. Contrary to many nostalgic community studies, they preserve agency and contingency in their analyses, examining not only visions that succeeded, but failures at community formation and the ephemeral elements in human aspiration that no fixed vision of communal life could ever satisfy.” —Patrick J. Geary, Professor of History, UCLA