Illinois Medieval Association 

Serving Illinois Medievalists since 1983

Plenary Lecture: Kathryn Jasper, “The Communication of Trauma and Monastic Friendship”

  • 12 Feb 2022
  • 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
  • Online

Registration is closed

Modern medicine has posited that the psychological effects of traumatic events can include feelings of helplessness and vulnerability, which certain idioms have historically characterized as a sign of weakness; we might be encouraged to “keep a stiff upper lip” or to “get over” pain and grief. Those contemporary sentiments undoubtedly have deep roots, but can we locate similar responses to trauma in a medieval context? This talk will explore how monks spoke about trauma during the Age of Reform, on the eve of what was arguably one of the most traumatic events of the Middle Ages – the Investiture Conflict. The intersection of religious devotion and trauma created opportunities to deepen relationships within, and between, monastic communities. The vestiges of these friendships, preserved in medieval letter collections, reveal evidence of coping strategies and a desire to overcome a fear of death.

English Department, Millikin University, 1184 W. Main St., Decatur, IL, 62522

Phone: 217-362-6465


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