School of Humanities and Social Science
HISTORY SEMINAR SERIES – 2009
Vocation to the East: The Asian Jesuit missionary enterprise at the beginning of the global age
Friday, 30 October
10am to 11am
Cultural Collections Reading Room (near the Information Common),
Level 2, Auchmuty Library, Callaghan Campus
This paper is delivered with the support of the Lila Wallace – Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and is based on research undertaken at Villa I Tatti, Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, as Hanna Kiel Fellow 2008/9.
In late-sixteenth-century Europe, Jesuit colleges and novitiates were awash with accounts from the missions in the ‘Indies’, igniting in young students and novices a desire to join the enterprise, especially in the East. This phenomenon of mass, collective vocations to the overseas missions is recorded in the remarkable letters of petition by aspiring missionaries addressed to the Superior General, now preserved at the Jesuit Archive in Rome.
In this paper, the petitions will be used to examine the process by which Asia was constructed and transmitted back to Europe as part of the Jesuit project of recruitment to, and promotion of, its overseas operations. With Jesuit accounts from the East representing one of the most important European sources of information about Asia in the early modern period, this paper offers a case study for assessing how the missionary enterprise informed European notions about Asia, particularly among those who imagined, rather than experienced, the East at the turn of the seventeenth century.
Camilla Russell is the author of Giulia Gonzaga and the Religious Controversies of Sixteenth-Century Italy (Brepols, 2006), as well as a number of articles on the religious and cultural history of early modern Italy.
Enquiries to: Michael Ondaatje (Michael.Ondaatje@newcastle.edu.au)