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Quaerendum est in litteris quod non est in actis. Issues of Religious Historiography in Scholarly Correspondences (2/3)

Panel Chair: Giovanni Casadio | Thursday, August 27, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Correspondences as a literary genre have proven to be, in the last years, an important key to reading religious historiography, both in order to obtain access to the Lebenssitz of scholars and to put concepts, debates, developments, structures and changes in their respective contexts. Hence, the religious-historical methodology cannot afford to neglect such a literary genre, given its character as 'etic' representation approaching the research object with an immediacy and originality that only personal communications can have; a freshness enriching scientific narration at all its levels with new and sometimes unexpected points of view. This panel (divided in three parts) intends to present some recent publications dealing with particularly significant exchanges of letters in the European area. The panel was launched with a half-open structure: besides the fixed books presentation (correspondences Pettazzoni-Rose, Cumont-Loisy, and Weinreich-Nilsson), it cordially invited researchers to contribute to it with further proposals of publication projects.

Alessandro Stavru

The Correspondence Frobenius - W. F. Otto

This paper will deal with scientific and personal issues surfacing from the correspondence between the ethnologist Leo Frobenius (1873-1938) and the philologist Walter F. Otto (1874-1958). The extant letters – enriched by other documents available in the Nachlässe of the two scholars – testify the development of their relationship from 1924 to 1938. Frobenius and Otto became close friends a couple of years after their first “official” contact in 1924 (when Otto made possible the transfer of Frobenius’ Forschungsinstitut für Kulturmorphologie from Munich to Frankfurt, as well his appointment to honorary professor in 1932 and, in 1935, to director of the municipal Museum für Völkerkunde). Their personal friendship was at the core of the “Religionswissenschaftliche Frankfurter Schule”, in which eminent scholars took part in the decade 1924-1934. The scientific and personal background of this school and other significant collaborations is well documented in this correspondence, which strikes both for its immediacy and scholarly interest.

Chiara Ombretta Tommasi

The Correspondence Pettazzoni – Widengren

The proposed paper sets the basis for the publication of the letters between Raffaele Pettazzoni and Geo Widengren. Although fewer in number if compared to other epistolaries of Pettazzoni, these letters represents, however, an interesting document to reconstruct Pettazzoni's scholarly legacy (which has been recently reassessed by many specific studies). Between 1948 and 1956, Widengren and Pettazzoni mainly discussed questions like the establishment of the International Association of the History of Religions and its official review, “Numen”, providing therefore interesting insight on its very beginning; at the same time, scholarly issues are occasionally debated, especially those concerning Iranian religion, according to Widengren’s unparalleled experience.

Giovanni Sorge

The Correspondence Eliade – Jung

Starting from their encounter at the Eranos meeting in 1950, Eliade and Jung developed a mutual interest for each other’s field of research. This is witnessed in their correspondence, alongside with Eliade’s attempt to promote the diffusion of Jungian ideas in French. Although they moved from different perspectives, they dealt with the psychic surfacing of archetypical constants. In any case, the Jungian concept of the collective unconscious does not coincide with that of the transconscious according to Eliade. In fact, an epistolary discussion on the symbolism of the mandala, which took place in 1955, shows, alongside the undeniable convergences in their approach to the phenomenon of the sacred, their different theoretical and philosophical assumptions and, consequently, their different conception of the psyche. The paper is focused on this theoretic plexus in the context of the human and intellectual relationship between the two scholars.


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