Albrecht Classen, The University of Arizona: Miracle Accounts as Teaching Aids and Learning Tools: Caesarius of Heisterbach’s Dialogus Miraculorum

Undoubtedly, Caesarius’s collection of miracle stories reflect squarely medieval mentality, a very devout mindset, fearing God and the devil, and believing strongly in the mediating power of the Virgin Mary and the many saints. We make it too easy for us, however, when we read these stories simply as religious messages. Behind the religious discourse, we can recognize a potent pedagogical project to get the young novices involved in the monastic discourse, to offer insights into the transcendence of all life, and to reflect on many ordinary aspects of human life. This paper is not dismissing the strongly Catholic worldview expressed here, but the careful reading across the entire body of tales can reveal, as was Caesarius’s primary purpose, how the narrative discourse could be utilized for universal didactic purposes.,


Thomas Willard, The University of Arizona: The Status of Alchemy and Alchemical Gold in Seventeenth-Century Europe

As Europe moved from its medieval past toward its modern future, there was a strange flurry of alchemical publication between the years 1602 and 1702, when the largest collections of alchemical texts were produced. This paper will survey the views of alchemy’s role in religion, science, and society with a concentration on the members of two distinct groups: the Rosicrucian authors and their adversaries in Germany between 1600 and 1621 and the members of the Royal Society of London between 1660 and 1691, with some attention to transitional figures at mid-century. Inevitably, the seekers of the Philosophers’ Stone turned back to the legacy of the Middle Ages in chemistry as much as they and others did in religion and politics. Some of the central figures led more conflicted lives than one might suppose.