Olga Kalashnikova: Research & CV

Preaching the Passion in 14th-century Bohemia: The rhetoric of Good Friday sermons

Research Area 2 – Norms and Transgressions

Contact: olga.kalashnikova(@)cefres.cz

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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 end of the century. Good Friday sermons were one of the most elaborated forms of late medieval preaching and became crucial in shaping the devotion and religious experience of the time, which increasingly focused on intensified forms to actively commemorate 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 results, 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) will be thoroughly studied and compared to the practices of other medieval preachers active outside Bohemia. In doing so, my dissertation adopts an interdisciplinary approach, following methods of performance studies, literary criticism, quantitative, exegetical, and liturgical research.



  • 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

Teaching experience

  • 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 2022: “‘Information war’ and historical memory in Russia: contemporary uses and abuses of military patriotism in video games” paper presented at The Fourth National Conference on Public History of AIPH. Venice/Mestre, Italy.
  • April 2022: co-organizer and presenter at the International Workshop “Ex parva predicacione magnus ignis accenditur”. Preaching in East-Central Europe in the Late Middle Ages at the Czech Academy of Sciences.
  • January 2022: “Jesus Christ superstar: Liturgical orchestration of the Passion cult in fourteenth-century Bohemia” paper presented at Cantieri dell’agiografia 2022 (Associazione italiana per lo Studio della Santità, dei Culti e dell’Agiografia). Rome, Italy
  • 2021-2022: co-organizer of the Central and Eastern European Historical Game Studies Workshop 2022 at the Czech Academy of Sciences in partnership with Central European University
  • July 2021:  “Empires in Witcher 3: Medieval tropes, historical authenticity, and players’ reception of imagined politics” paper presented at The International Medieval Congress. Leeds, UK

Recent publications

  • “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. (Submitted for peer-review, accepted)
  • “Constructing the Middle Ages on the Screen: Procedural Rhetoric in Civilization V, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and Medieval Dynasty”. Annual of Medieval Studies (Submitted for peer-review, accepted)