Preaching the Passion in 14th-century Bohemia: The rhetoric of Good Friday sermons
Research Area 2 – Norms and Transgressions
Olga Kalashnikova is a doctoral candidate at the Central European University in Budapest. Her PhD dissertation, entitled Preaching the Passion in 14th-century Bohemia: The rhetoric of Good Friday sermons contributes to CEFRES research area 2.
My dissertation aims at shedding light on the nature of late medieval Bohemian piety by tracing the evolution and peculiarities of preaching techniques for Good Friday in fourteenth-century Bohemia, from the 1330s till the 1380s. Good Friday sermons were one of the most elaborated forms of late medieval preaching and became crucial in shaping the religious devotion of the time, which increasingly focused on the commemoration of the Passion of Christ. The main goal of the dissertation is to examine the theological and communicative methods of composing and presenting Good Friday sermons, the peculiarities of Bohemian preaching styles, and possible reasons for these characteristics.
Methodologically, in order to achieve these goals, my PhD project adopts a comparative perspective to trace and classify religious, moral, and rhetorical ‘norms’ typical for celebrating the Good Friday, which was undoubtedly a paramount day of the liturgical calendar. It also highlights the unusual features of preaching for the day in the light of the Passion piety in late-medieval Bohemia, a dynamic and widespread phenomenon which the scholarship has predominantly considered through the teleological lenses of the Bohemian ‘Reformation’ and subsequent Hussite movement. Hence, instead of studying fourteenth-century Bohemian preachers in relation to Jan Hus and his followers, my project considers their legacy from a new angle, mainly as religious mediators, able to select, systematize, and transmit religious and moral knowledge to a vast audience. In particular, methods of composing their sermons (the choice of literary and theological commonplaces as well as pastoral and social messages) are thoroughly studied and compared to the practices of acclaimed medieval preachers active outside Bohemia. In doing so, my dissertation adopts an interdisciplinary approach, following methods of history of emotions, performance studies, literary criticism, exegetical, and liturgical research.
Moreover, I am also interested in the use and reception of revisionist stereotypes about the Middle Ages in contemporary public discourse in Russia (video games, news, and anti-Western and militaristic propaganda).
- from 2018 till present: PhD Candidate, Medieval Studies at Central European University, Budapest/Vienna
- 2017-2018: MA, Medieval Studies at Central European University, Budapest
- 2010-2015: BA, History at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow
- 2021-2022: Teaching fellow at Global History Lab, Princeton University & Central European University
- 2020: Teaching assistant in the Saints and Mystics in late medieval Europe course, Central European University, Budapest
Recent academic activities
- May 2023: “Medievalism in Russian and Ukrainian Political Discourses” roundtable discussion at the International Congress on Medieval Studies. Kalamazoo, USA
- May 2023: “(Com)Passion with Christ: Affective texts for Good Friday preaching in fourteenth-century Bohemia” paper presented at the international conference Saints and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages and Beyond. Budapest, Hungary
- April 2023: “History serves the motherland: Miseducating medievalisms in contemporary public discourse in Russia” paper presented at the CEU’s online conference Digital Medievalisms and the Teaching of History
- April, 2023: “Digital Games under Putinism: Russian games made for Russians” guest lecture given at Charles University. Prague, Czech Republic
- September 2022-September 2023: co-organizer and presenter at the International Workshop Pain and Conflicts in medieval affective literature at the University of Geneva.
- April 2022-September 2023: co-editor of the volume “Late-medieval Preaching in East-Central Europe” based on a workshop held in Prague in 2022. Proposal accepted by BREPOLS.
- “Milíč’s Good Friday Sermon: Structure and Rhetorical Devices”. In Communicating the Passion: Socio-Religious Function of an Emotional Narrative. Eds. Pietro Delcorno and Holly Johnson. (BREPOLS, Forthcoming)
- “A bridge to Christ’s Passion: Preaching modalities on Passion Sunday in the sermon collections of Jacobus de Voragine, Konrad Waldhauser, and Milíč of Kroměříž”. Studia Mediaevalia Bohemica. (Forthcoming)
- “Hry s propagandou : Interaktivní média a informační válka v Rusku [Games with propaganda: Interactive media and information war in Russia]”, DĚJINY A SOUČASNOST, 2023, no. 1.