O felix familia Christi: Petrarch's Christian Humanism and Carthusian Monasticism


Location: Hesburgh Library, Special Collections Room

Demetrio S. Yocum, University of Notre Dame

If scholars have long established the historical connection between Petrarch and Carthusian monasticism, they have overlooked the mutually profound and lasting impact of Carthusian spirituality on Petrarch’s life and literary work as well as Petrarch’s oeuvre within the Carthusian order. By focusing on selected readings from Petrarch’s three Latin treatises—_De vita solitaria_, De otio religioso, and _Secretum_—and supported by other primary and secondary sources, the seminar, based on Yocum’s forthcoming book, will explore the particular practices of Carthusian monasticism at the heart of Petrarch’s Christian humanism intended less as an intellectual approach to human freedom and salvation and more as an inner task of self-transformation. The essential traits of Carthusian life as adopted and adapted by Petrarch for his program of humanist studies, aimed at enlightening himself and his readers, not only bring to maturity the laicization of monastic otium but also play a fundamental role in the development of Petrarch’s (and later) humanist approaches to religion and literature with important repercussions for present and future reflections and practices.

This lecture is part of the Petrarch Seminar, a series of three seminars organized in connection with the graduate seminar on Petrarch offered by the Italian Studies program during the semester. It is open to the public.