"Armonie composte" (Cycle of seminars about the monastic landscape Devised by Gianmario Guidarelli and Elena Svalduz- Padua University)
Praglia Abbey and Padua University have joined together to enhance knowledge of monastic landscapes, and in particular of the Benedictine system of land planning and management based on the distinctive approach to community life set out in the Rule of Saint Benedict and in general in the whole range of monastic thought that it inspired.
Responding also to the stimulating questions raised by the first seminar in the Armonie composte cycle, entitled Constructed landscapes, landscapes in art, this second meeting will explore the theme of "periphery" in the sense of the outer edge of urban settlements. Throughout their history, monasteries have chosen to establish themselves away from town and city centres in places that combine seclusion with sufficient proximity to allow them to maintain a dialectic relationship with urban realities and with the world. As in the past, a common factor in these landscapes is the priority they give to constructing "community" spaces, designed to enrich the lives of the people who inhabit them and to lend themselves gradually to being absorbed into the urban landscape. Today, monasteries embody a borderline territory encompassing both the spiritual dimension and a concrete commitment to constructing the human environment, and as such can themselves be understood as "periphery". Can history or the present day provide models and experiences of periphery construction, like the example of the monasteries, that can guide contemporary endeavours to reclaim urban landscape development from the figures Andrea Zanzotto defined as "heartless planners"? Is it possible to discern elements of community values and aspiration to centrality in peripheral landscapes?
The seminar will set out, therefore, not only to identify a concrete relationship between monasteries and peripheries in history as in contemporary life, but also to reflect on the nature of the monastic system and on how it can work as a model for human peripheries. In other words, the aim is to reflect on the monastery as a small-scale laboratory of humanistic thought and practice dedicated to fostering the art of coexistence between tradition and innovation, between silence and communication, between material, spirit and thought. The starting point of the seminar is a critical examination of these subjects, comparing the principles that inspire the monastery "as the periphery" and "in the periphery" with the concept of periphery in the current urban planning debate.
Subsequent contributions will offer an analysis of the outer edges of towns and cities at various stages in history and will reflect on the role played by monasteries in the construction of these landscapes; this will lead on to a focus on the ways value-rich peripheral landscapes that generate wellbeing for those who live within them and for the town or city as a whole can still be constructed thanks in part to specific actions put into practice by monasteries and other religious bodies, or to local efforts or planning that is sensitively cognisant of the function of community. Contributions from representatives of monastic culture will provide first-hand insights into the special relationship between the concept of "desert" and the isolation of monasteries on the one hand, and the historical development of their links with various forms of territory and "peripheries" on the other. At the concluding session, which will be open to the public, the results emerging from the seminar will be considered in the context of salient points of view and experiences concerning the relationship between monastic spirituality and landscapes of contemporary "peripheries".
Historians of architecture, art, geography, sociology, archaeology and urbanism are invited to take part in the seminar with a view to achieving broad interdisciplinary debate. The programme includes the presentation of papers, discussion groups on specific aspects of the general theme, and site visits.
Scientific commitee: Jacopo Bonetto (Padua University), Giordana Mariani Canova (Padua University), Benedetta Castiglioni (Padua University), Paolo Fassera osb (Praglia Abbey), Gianmario Guidarelli (Padua University), Mauro Maccarinelli osb (Praglia Abbey), Carmelo Maiorana (Padua University), Alessandra Pattanaro (Padua University), Carlo Pellegrino (Padua University), Vittoria Romani (Padua University), Guglielmo Scannerini osb (Praglia Abbey), Elena Svalduz (Padua University), Francesco Trolese osb (S. Giustina Abbey), Giovanna Valenzano (Padua University), Norberto Villa osb (Praglia Abbey), Giuseppe Zaccaria (Padua University), Stefano Zaggia (Padua University).
Scientific secretariat and organizational coordination: Paola Vettore Ferraro