February 2019: New Season of Jesuit Studies Cafés Announced

The Jesuit Studies Cafés for Spring 2019 have been announced, featuring scholars from Africa, Europe, and North America. Topics range from Jesuits in Qina China to Robert Persons, SJ, and from a new online bibliography to questioning if the Jesuits were the last medieval order.


The Jesuit Studies Cafés are informal discussions hosted by the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies. The events are free and open to the public, either to attend at the Institute’s library at Boston College or to join via videoconference. These cafés are unique opportunities to engage with some of the world’s preeminent scholars working on the history, spirituality, and educational heritage of the Society of Jesus.


If you would like to attend a café via videoconference, please register, and you will receive information on how to access the online meeting space 24 hours before the discussion.


The Spring 2019 schedule follows below. Please contact the Institute with any questions or if you wish to join or lead a café in the future (iajs@bc.edu).


February 21, 9:15 a.m. Eastern

Eugenio Menegon, Boston University and Collaborative Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies

“The Jesuits as Courtiers in Qing China”

The Jesuits started their mission to China during the late Ming period, in the 1580s, but only received official imperial protection during the following Qing dynasty, starting in 1644. They were incorporated in the Imperial Astronomical Directorate as scientific functionaries, and informally served the emperor and the imperial court as painters, architects, horologists, cartographers, and ‘Western Studies’ experts until the late eighteenth century. Some key players within the Society of Jesus in Beijing also played a more “political” role as imperial favorites, or “courtiers” in early modern parlance. Part of a larger project on the Qing court, this presentation will cast light on the experiences of “missionary courtiers” in late imperial China.


March 21, 9:15 a.m. Eastern

Special Guests from North America and Europe


Either in person or online, please join special guests from Europe and North America to learn more about JesuitOnlineBibliography.com — a free, collaborative, multilingual, and fully searchable database of bibliographic records for Jesuit Studies scholarship produced in the 21st century. The Jesuit Online Bibliography is a collaborative effort between Jesuit research centers and archives as well as scholars and publishers. Join the café’s informal discussion to learn how the database works and how you can contribute to its growing and curated collection of scholarship.


April 11, 9:15 a.m. Eastern

Victor Houliston, University of the Witwatersrand

“Puzzles and posts: Reconstructing the Correspondence of Robert Persons, SJ”

Discussion will be led by Aislinn Muller, Institute Fellow.

Victor Houliston will speak about his work on the Robert Persons Correspondence Project. The project aims to produce an updated, multi-volume, multi-lingual edition of the surviving correspondence and unpublished papers of Robert Persons, SJ (1546-1610). The first volume of this project was published by the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in 2017.

May 9, 9:15 a.m. Eastern

Markus Friedrich, Universität Hamburg

“The Jesuits as the Last Medieval Order?”

By and large, scholars discuss the Society of Jesus and (most of) the Jesuits with an eye to what lay ahead. The Jesuits have contributed to the beginning of something new and have helped inaugurate a still-influential change. Markus Friedrich, in his provocative presentation and pre-circulated paper, will argue that there are limits–and real consequences–to this traditional narrative. Friedrich will advocate for a chronological reorientation of Jesuit historiography and for a more complex integration of Jesuit reformism into a broader and more outspoken acknowledgment of Jesuit traditionality.
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