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

28-211 | Friday, 1:30 p.m. | 121
Panel Chair: Giovanni Casadio

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.

Daniela Dumbrava

The Correspondence Bianchi – Culianu

The primary aim of this paper is to present the correspondence between Ugo Bianchi (1922-1995), a leading Italian historian of religions who was IAHR President (1990-1995), and his Romanian disciple Ioan Petru Culianu (1950-1991), an internationally renowned figure in the historical and scientific study of religions, and involves reviewing topics of Bianchi’s methodology and the manner in which Culianu evolved following his encounter with the Italian “maestro”. The specific aim of this paper is to give an overview of ‘method in religious studies’ moving from the constant methodological contrast between Bianchi and Culianu and argue that its overcoming is a key motive in the academic correspondence between the two scholars. Seldom addressed in the growing number of studies dedicated to them, dualism and ascension stand out as problematic issues in several pages of their correspondence. Thus the second part of the paper will address the ways in which Culianu uses these terms at variance with Bianchi’s standard terminologies.

Riccardo Nanini

The Correspondence Kerényi – Buber

Although being Religionswissenschaftler with quite different interests and temperaments, the Hungarian transplanted in Switzerland Károly Kerényi (1897-1973) and Martin Buber (1878-1965), the German Jew soon moved to Jerusalem, esteem and frequent each other for a long time, as their correspondence (1947-1963), conserved at the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach, shows. The mythologist Kerényi and the philosopher of religion Buber, though with different accents, are both asserters of a creative religious primordiality (Kerényi calls it Grundmacht) that has to be preserved from the Urgefahr, the risk of reification and institutionalization of religion, and reveal in this exchange of letters their ability to relativise distance between their fields of research as well as cultural worlds, namely Greek and Roman antiquity on the one side and Jewish tradition and thought on the other, on behalf of a common humanism that becomes fertile ground for mutual intuitions, influences and references.

Valerio Salvatore Severino

The Correspondeces between Italian and Polish Historians of Religions

This paper proposes an in-depth look at the impact of the Cold War on the European academic studies of religion, focusing on the correspondences between Polish and Italian historians of religions in the second half of the 20th century. Pointing out the tensions between the two Occidental capitals of Christianity and Communism, Rome and Warsaw, the paper proceeds to discuss the role of such epistolary correspondences in shaping a new East / West debate. The research will aim at evaluating whether these letters cross or build ideological frontiers on the topics of secularism and atheism, and at investigating if and in what measure these documents were pieces in the mosaic of European integration.