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Liturgical Press

Medieval Exempla in Transition

Victoria Smirnova

Medieval Exempla in Transition
Medieval Exempla in Transition

ISBN: 9780879071301, CS296P

Details: 360 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Publication Date: 12/15/2022
Cistercian Publications

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This study follows the transmission and reception of Caesarius of Heisterbach's Dialogus miraculorum (1219–1223), one of the most compelling and successful Cistercian collections of miracles and memorable events, from the Middle Ages to the present day. It ranges across different media and within different interpretive communities and includes brief summaries of a number of the exempla.

Victoria Smirnova holds a doctoral degree in medieval Latin literature from Lomonosov Moscow State University (2006) and is currently a research fellow in the Bavarian State Library (Munich). She specializes in medieval sermons and exempla with particular emphasis on Caesarius of Heisterbach, to whose works she has dedicated numerous articles. She is also the principal editor of the collection of essays in The Art of Cistercian Persuasion in the Middle Ages and Beyond (2015).


"Victoria Smirnova offers us a thorough, philologically accurate, and enjoyable history of Caesarius of Heisterbach, his stories, and their fortune from the twelfth century to the present day. Both an in-depth study of the Dialogus miraculorum and an introduction to Cistercian exemplary literature, Medieval Exempla in Transition is an outstanding work. Clearly written and meticulously researched, this volume will be a required reading for all scholars and students of the Cistercian world."
Stefano Mula, Middlebury College

"Victoria Smirkova has written the story of the pivotal exempla collection of the Middle Ages. By contrast to Caesarius' very long book of 300,000 words, her book is concise but comprehensive. She tells the fascinating story of exempla before and after Caesarius Dialogue and traces the book's Cistercian roots and reception by Cistercians and others from Caesarius' time to our own. For anyone interested in exempla, Cistercians, or Caesarius, this book is required reading."
Hugh Feiss, OSB

"Victoria Smirnova’s fascinating and carefully researched study of the reception history of Caesarius of Heisterbach’s Dialogue on Miracles illustrates the myriad ways that Caesarius’s collection of stories captures the imagination of its readers. Smirnova tracks the communities who copied, printed, modified, interpreted, and translated Caesarius’s text, and she guides us through its manuscript and printed history from the thirteenth century to the present day. This is important reading for the study of monasticism and religious life but also for the investigation of medievalisms and the modern reuse of medieval texts."
Martha G Newman, Professor of History and Religious Studies, The University of Texas at Austin