Narrated Holiness between Individual Decision and Collective Recognition
Holiness is commonly understood as a distinction inaccessible to human reach that is defined as trans temporal and universal. What is considered holy, however, is the result of a social process. This process can be described as a collective choice, behind which individual and institutional decisions are at play. Decisions regarding holiness are of utmost political, economic, and social significance. Because they are expressed in literary works, they are received and turned into patterns of collective action. On a textual level, holiness expresses itself in enthralling depictions both of individual decisions between good and evil and of the reception of grace and election by a transcendental force. The project tracks the patterns within these representations throughout hagiographical texts of the Middle Ages and the modern era.
The interdisciplinary collaboration between ecclesiastic history, German medieval studies, and modern German literary studies will break down barriers of periodization and disciplinary borders. The joint work will focus on the different functional definitions of holiness conveyed by literary works and will highlight the patterns of the underlying historical collective processes of decision.