|Professor of Religion
Departmental Area: History and Ethnography of Religion
Address: Department of Religion
François Dupuigrenet Desroussilles graduated from the École nationale des Chartes and the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris (1976). He was curator of rare books in the Bibliothèque nationale (1978-1995), director of the French national school for librarians, ENSSIB (1995-2005), visiting professor at the University of Italian Switzerland (1998-2005), scholar in residence at the Ecole normale supérieure Lettres et sciences humaines (2005-2006), and curator of rare books at the Institut de France (2006-2007) before becoming professor of Humanities at FSU in 2008 and switching to Religion in 2009. For thirty years he taught and published research on the Bible in early modern Europe, the mise en page of Latin poetry during the Renaissance and Baroque era, and the Italian book in France during the sixteenth century. He was a founding member of the Consortium of European Research Libraries and a member of its board (1991-2004), and president of the Institut d’étude du livre (1988-1994) and the Institut d’histoire du livre (2002-2005).
His main book, Dieu en son royaume, presently under major revision, emphasizes the constant metamorphosis of biblical texts in France between the time of Saint Louis and the French revolution. A rigorous bibliographical analysis of Biblical production and diffusion leads to studies of the Davidic image of French kings, the Biblical tragedies of Racine or the religious grands motets of seventeenth century court composers. It is this approach that led him to join the history of text technologies initiative where textual culture encompasses the whole process of production, reproduction, circulation and reception of “texts” intended in the very wide sense that D.F. McKenzie gave to the word in his “heretical classic” Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts (1985).
In parallel to his work in the history of the religious book he edited in French major authors in the history of Christian thought for the publisher Payot-Rivages: the Apocryphal Gospels in Voltaire’s translation, saint John, saint Augustine, Petrarch, Pascal, La Rochefoucauld.
Between 2007 and 2009, when he was a professor in the Humanities department, he taught graduate courses on The Bible as a Book (13th to 18th century) and The Visual Space of the Book. Antiquity to Twentieth Century. He is currently working on a book on Baroque religious Latin poetry, and one on French and English sovereigns and the Bible.
Research and Teaching Interests
- The Bible in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
- The Visual Space of Religious Baroque Poetry
- Christian Sensitivities during the Medieval and Early Modern Period
- Political Theology and the Birth the Modern State
- Dieu en son royaume. La Bible dans la France d’autrefois (13e-18e siècle), Paris, Editions du Cerf, 1991.
- Regards sur le livre (Art. Histoire. Technique), Paris, Editions du Sorbier, 1997.
- Trésors de la Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, Nathan, 1987.
- 2004. La Bible de Barbe Bleue. « Cahiers de médiologie » (17).
- 1999. La galaxie Tsaï-Loun. « Cahiers de médiologie » (6) Revised edition of a 1983 article published in “Traverses”, the journal of the Centre Pompidou.
- 1995. Les représentations du livre chez Clouet et Vélasquez. In La symbolique du livre dans l’art occidental du haut moyen âge à Rembrandt. Bordeaux: Société des bibliophiles de Guyenne.
- 1988. La contrefaçon des éditions bibliques de Port Royal. In Les Presses grises. La contrefaçon. Actes du colloque de Dijon, 12-14 mai 1987 Paris: Aux amateurs de livres.
- 1987. Pour une étude de la production catholique en français au XVIIIe siècle. In La Bible au siècle des Lumière. Paris: Beauchesne.
1984. Sept problèmes de l'édition port-royaliste du psautier en français. « Revue de la Bibliothèque nationale.
REL3936 Introduction to Medieval Christianity
The Christian millennium, from the time of the first Christian emperors and the Church fathers, from the 4th to the 5th century, to the breaking of Christianity brought by the Reformation, in the 16th century, is often for our contemporaries, particularly in the US, a source of fascination and disbelief. Countless novels, films, or videogames, from Mark Twain’s A Connectitut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court to Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood have acquainted them with a world of monks and knights, magicians and saints, of which they actually have very little knowledge – apart from the existence of papacy and the Inquisition. The dominant view is that medieval Christianity was wiped out by the great Reformers and somehow survived in Catholicism.
In this course, which does not require any prior knowledge of the period, I will introduce students to the history of ten centuries during which European society became Christian, a travailed process of which I will highlight the contradictions and difficulties, very far from the majestic "all Christian world" that we spontaneously imagine medieval Europe to have been. The first part of the course will be dedicated to the progressive delimitation of Christendom, a "Christian Commonwealth" (Respublica Christiana) governed by the Roman pope and defined in opposition to Islam and Orthodoxy, its adversaries from the outside, and paganism and heresies, its opponents from the inside. The second part will exemplify the ways in which Christian society represented itself, with its "tri-functional" division between those who pray (the secular and the regular Church), those who fight (kings and knights) and those who work (peasants, artisans and merchants). The last part of the course will examine the changing meanings of the essential moments of Christian life: baptism, marriage and death, with a particular emphasis on the medieval conception of human love.
REL3936 Love, Sex and Religion in the early modern West (Honors)
What do we talk about when we talk about love in a Christian society? Are sacred and profane love contradictory or complementary? If chastity is the desired state that Christians should pursue what is the value of married life? Can priests be married men? How should sexuality be viewed in and out of wedlock, between members of opposite sexes and of the same sex? To these questions that haunted Christian thinkers since the time of the Fathers the Gregorian reform of the medieval Church had brought seemingly definitive answers that imposed patterns of behavior at all levels of Western society, from kings to serfs: matrimony became a sacrament based on the freedom of the spouses, priests could not marry or have concubines anymore, canonical penalties against adulterers and sodomites were harshened.
"Love sex and religion in the early modern West" will introduce students to the gradual undoing of medieval conceptions and to the emergence of a patriarchal order of personal behavior in sexual matters, fostered by the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation alike, that represented a major and durable change in European attitudes and sensitivities. Between the time of the Trecento Italian humanists Petrarch and Boccaccio – authors of the Canzoniere and the Decamerone, two well-known classics of the literature of love, as well as theological and spiritual texts - and that of Milton in 17th century England – the poet of Paradise lost was also the author of a famous tract on divorce -, theologians, jurists writers and artists redefined patterns and motifs of human sexuality in the light of reformed models of Christian life. Taking into account the considerable body of work produced by demographer historians of early modern Europe during the last fifty years (Peter Laslett, Pierre Chaunu etc.) on familial structures and sexual practices, we will thus draw on a great variety of documents from religious and legal texts (treatises on Christian behavior, confessor’s manuals, sermons, Roman Church canon law, Geneva ordinances etc.) to major works of art (Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love for example) and to accounts of radical episodes of transgression of the new sexual order: the free love of German and Dutch Anabaptist of the 16th century or the community of women advocated by the English Ranters of the following century.
REL5305/ENG5801 History of Text Technology Gateway Course
This course, cross-listed between the Religion and English departments in the History of Text Technologies PhD track, provides an introduction to the interactions between text culture and the media technologies that shaped the way we produce, transmit, transform, receive and interpret creative representations of human experience. This year, because it will be taught by a historian of the religious book it will mostly address representations of religious, mostly Christian, experience, from catacomb art to televangelism.
For graduate students it is a unique opportunity to be confronted with the material production and transformation of texts that they have thus far only known in the "two dimensional", abstract space of modern editions and reproductions – be them illuminated medieval manuscripts of the lives of the saints, John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Michelangelo’s Last Judgment or Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Beginning with the two opposed categories of the ephemeral and the monumental (early Christian graffiti and Papal marble inscriptions in Antique Rome for example), the course will then embark on a generally chronological tour of technologies and their forms: the diversity of manuscript, the evolution of print from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, the history and theory of reading (including the ways in which new technologies transform their users), visual texts, film, recorded sound, broadcast and digital media.
Each of these categories will be explored through a combination of case studies and hands-on encounters in the Special Collections department of the Strozier Library, accompanied by historical and theoretical readings by major authors. Students will be allowed and even encouraged to focus their own written and oral assignments on the period, media, or genre that interests them most.
HUM2937 Christianity and Birth of the Modern State
How did Christian thought conceive the ideal of the Christian Commonwealth, embodied in the idea of Empire, and the reality of Christian states as they developed during the late medieval and early modern period? How did Christian political thinkers view the dismantling of the feudal system that gave way to the sovereign form of the state? How did they consider non-Christian forms of state such as the Ottoman Empire, the greatest power in the Mediterranean world in the XVIth and XVIIth century? How, between 1300 and 1800 were conceived such tenets of our contemporary conception of the state as the nature of sovereignty, the exercise of citizenship, the legitimate use of violence, the role of religion in the state, or civil and ecclesiastical toleration?
Starting with Dante’s treatise on monarchy, this course will focus on the ideological make-up of the European state from the thirteenth to the eighteenth century, emphasizing such defining moments as the birth of Protestant states in the sixteenth century, the English Revolution, the treatises of Westphalia in 1648 that put an end to more than a hundred years of religious wars in Europe.
Particular emphasis will be given to a seminar-form discussion of Dante’s Monarchy, Thomas Hobbes’s On the citizen, and Rousseau’s Social Contract.
REL3936 The Reformation and Christianity in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700
With the same methods as its companion course Introduction to medieval Christianity, The Reformation and Christianity in Early Modern Europe presents an in-depth analysis of two centuries that deeply altered the course of Christian history, from the Lutheran challenge to the Roman Catholic Church to the peace of Westphalia that sanctioned the mutual recognition of Catholic and Protestant states at the end of the Thirty Years War. If prominent in the course will be great figures of religious reformers such as John Calvin, of reformed sovereigns like Elizabeth I of England, or of artists such as Hans Holbein or Johann Sebastian Bach, all of whom contributed to the definition of Protestant forms of civilization, I will not examine the sole Protestant world but will evaluate globally the long lasting consequences of the Reformation on European Christianity, thus on the side of the Catholic Church as on the side of the Reformed ones. In ―Europe’s house divided‖ (Diarmaid MacCulloch) reformers and counter-reformers alike considered that the Bible was the ultimate judge of their controversies, and an unsurpassable model both for the Christian state and for a science that could not contradict divine Revelation. The existence of this common biblical culture clearly differentiates the period under consideration from the ―critical years of the European mind‖ (Paul Hazard) at the end of the seventeenth century, when the authority of the Bible, and of all Christian Churches, will be under attack from the forerunners of the Enlightenment and soon the the Encyclopédie of D’Alembert and Diderot will substitute the Bible as the great code of culture.
REL5497 Soul and the Self
The aim of this course is to introduce students to a selection of major texts that address the metaphysical make-up of the human person in Christian thought during the medieval and early modern period. Motifs stemming from Greco–Roman philosophers, especially Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca, were reinterpreted through the lens of the Bible and the Revelation to create a religious conscience of the self.
From Augustine’s Soliloquies to Montaigne’s Apology for Raymond de Sebond, the texts for this course have been purposefully chosen to emphasize the centrality of Augustinian thought for all Christian authors, and of the figure of Augustine as God’s interlocutor – hence the great number of apocryphal dialogues published during the middle ages under the name of the saint. After three excerpts from Augustine, very diverse texts are proposed: two sets of university "questions" (Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther), a dialogue in the manner of Plato (Petrarch), an academic speech (Giovanni Pico della Mirandola), two philosophical treatises (Nicolaus Cusanus, Pietro Pomponazzi), a satire (Erasmus), and an essay from the inventor of the genre (Montaigne). These texts will be analyzed as representatives of precise doctrinal views and of shifting historical mentalities and sensitivities. As such they will be confronted with literary texts, with works of art, or humbler documents such as sermons, private letters or wills.
All texts exist in English translation, but students with knowledge of Latin, or French in the case of Montaigne, are invited to consult them also in their original language.