September 2021: Fall Season of Jesuit Studies Cafés Announced

The Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies has announced the hosts and themes for the Fall 2021 Jesuit Studies Cafés. The series of informal, remote discussions with the world’s preeminent scholars working on the history, spirituality, and educational heritage of the Society of Jesus presents unique opportunities to learn more about the newest and most interesting scholarship in Jesuit Studies. The fall schedule appears below.


The series is organized in collaboration with the University of Lisbon and the Italian German Historical Institute.


Additional details are available at:



September 23
“Missionary Men in the Early Modern World: German Jesuits and Pacific Journeys”
Ulrike Strasser, Ph.D.
University of California San Diego
Zoom | 9:20 a.m.–10am (Eastern, GMT-4)

How did gender shape the expanding Jesuit enterprise in the early modern world? What did it take to become a missionary man? And how did missionary masculinity align itself with the European colonial project? Missionary Men in the Early Modern World: German Jesuits and Pacific Journeys highlights the central importance of male affective ties and masculine mimesis in the formation of the Jesuit missions, as well as the significance of patriarchal dynamics. Focusing on previously neglected German actors, Strasser shows how stories of exemplary male behavior circulated across national boundaries, directing the hearts and feet of men throughout Europe toward Jesuit missions in faraway lands. The sixteenth-century Iberian exemplars of Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, disseminated in print and visual media, inspired late-seventeenth-century Jesuits from German-speaking lands to bring Catholicism and European gender norms to the Spanish-controlled Pacific. The age of global missions hinged on the reproduction of missionary manhood in print and real life.

Ulrike Strasser is a professor of history at the University of California San Diego. Her publications include the award-winning monograph State of Virginity: Gender, Religion, and Politics in an Early Modern Catholic State (University of Michigan Press, 2004).


October 21
“The Education of a Historian: A Strange and Wonderful Story”
John O’Malley, S.J.
Georgetown University
Zoom | 9:20 a.m.–10am (Eastern, GMT-4)

In this autobiographical memoir, John W. O’Malley recounts how his life-story is unintelligible apart from his craft as an historian and from the passion his craft inspired. The narrative is the straightforward story of how a young man of modest background from a small town in Ohio achieved international eminence as a historian of the religious culture of modern Europe. In some detail, therefore, this book tells how four of the twelve monographs that O’Malley published during his career had field-changing influence: Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome (1979), The First Jesuits (1993), Trent and All That (2000), and What Happened at Vatican II (2008). The book is, however, much more than a tedious review of scholarship. It teaches the reader lessons in historical method and lessons in what good history does for us. They are lessons easy to digest because they are taught not by abstract principles, but by following a historian in action as he learns in fits and starts how to interpret the past in ways that do less injustice to it than other ways.

John O’Malley is University Professor in the Theology Department at Georgetown University. His specialty is the history of religious culture in early modern Europe, especially Italy. He has received best-book prizes from the American Historical Association, the American Philosophical Society, the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, the American Catholic Historical Association, and from the Alpha Sigma Nu fraternity.


November 18
“Veronica and her devils. Jesuits, exorcism and medicine in Nineteenth Century Rome”
Fernanda Alfieri, Ph.D.
University of Bologna, Italy
Zoom | 9:20 a.m.–10am (Eastern, GMT-5)

In December 1834, a small group gathered in a house near the Ghetto in Rome. A Jesuit father and a brother, along with a physician, entered the apartment where a famous family of artists lived, and surrounded the bed where a young woman aged 19 layed-down. Her name was Veronica, and she was affected by symptoms that her family and social environment had defined as demonic possession. From that day of December, for six months, exorcists and doctors visited the young girl every day. What was at stake was not only her deliverance from the devil, but the very identity of the Society of Jesus, restored twenty years before, and the capability of medicine to heal both bodies and souls. The research was carried out starting from the documentation stored in the General Archives of the Society of Jesus in Rome (ARSI), and led its author not only to an investigation of the case, but also to question the nature of historical writing and the very nature of the discipline. The supposed demonic crises of Veronica provoked many other crises. After all, “Deviltries are at once symptoms and transitional solutions. The ‘diabolical crisis’ has a double significance: it reveals the imbalance of a culture, and it accelerates the process of its mutation. It is not merely an object of historical curiosity. It is the confrontation (one among others, though more visible than others) of a society with the certainties it is losing, and those it is attempting to acquire” (M. de Certeau, The possession at Loudun).

Fernanda Alfieri is a researcher at the University of Bologna and on leave Fellow of the Istituto Storico Italo-Germanico in Trento, Fondazione Bruno Kessler. She was Invited scholar at the Center of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Perth and Melbourne nodes) and the Institute for European Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Waseda University, Tokyo, and Visiting scholar at the Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung, Gefühle Geschichte, Berlin. Among her publications: Nella camera degli sposi. Tomás Sánchez, il matrimonio, la sessualità (secoli XVI-XVII), Bologna, il Mulino, 2010; Veronica e il diavolo. Storia di un esorcismo a Roma, Torino, Einaudi, 2021; with T. Jinno, Christianity and Violence in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. Perspectives from Europe and Japan, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2021.


December 16
“A Global Earth in the Classroom: Jesuit Education and Geographic Literacy at the Dawn of Globalization”
David Salomoni, Ph.D.
University of Lisbon, Portugal
Zoom | 9:20 a.m.–10am (Eastern, GMT-5)

Between the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries two processes of great importance for world history came to an end. The first was the impulse given by the Iberian monarchies to the exploration of the earth. In 1522, the expedition started by Ferdinand Magellan had completed the first circumnavigation of the world, but it was only from the second half of the century that a series of stable colonies between Asia, Africa, and America gave birth to an actual global system. The process was completed in 1565 when a stable maritime route from East Asia to West America was established thanks to the Manila Galleon. In an apparently different domain, in 1599 the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum, the most important rule of study in Catholic Europe, was completed. Following the Jesuit example, other religious teaching orders developed their rules of study. What was the connection between these two phenomena? Did the process of exploration of the world—and the emergence in this process of new scientific concepts—influence the way in which knowledge was produced and transmitted? This talk aims at deepening the reflection whether the process of the first globalization influenced the making of the epistemological foundations underlying modern science through Jesuit pre-university schools.

David Salomoni holds a PhD in history from the University of Avignon, and a PhD in pedagogy and history of education from the University of Rome III. In 2017 he started research on the educational institutions of religious teaching orders in early modern Italy and in 2019 he was awarded an Andrew Mellon Fellowship at the University of Oklahoma History of Science Collections. At present, he holds a post-doctoral position at the History of Science Department of the University of Lisbon in the framework of the ERC funded project: RUTTER Making the Earth Global, under the direction of Prof. Henrique Leitão. The project studies early modern Iberian nautical rutters as the oldest sources on the emergence of the idea of a global earth. Dr. Salomoni has published several articles and books. In 2017 he was awarded the Galileo Galilei Prize for young scholars by the Rotary International.

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