No 33, December 2008
Lidingö outside Stockholm, New Years Eve 2008
Dear colleagues and friends,
We wish everybody a happy and creative New Year with many new interesting encounters and findings in our area of research. For technical reasons this newsletter will go out in plain text format, but it will also be available online on our website within a week.
1) ICHF 29-31 May 2009 Preliminary Programme and Registration out now!
With great satisfaction we want to notify that the preliminary programme and registration for the second International Conference in the History of
Freemasonry now is out. The pdf-file can be accessed via out website (“News and Events”, “Conferences”) where you also find further information on the conference organisers who certainly are happy to send you the brochures in hard copies if you would prefer this. The ICHF will provide a unique opportunity for international encounters between scholars in the area, regardless of background, and a larger public audience. 72 papers will be delivered over
three days in a city with a magnificent location and we hope to see many of you there.
2) Academic Society for Research into Freemasonry under formation
As reported in our last newsletter, we have taken the initiative to form an Academic Society for Research into Freemasonry and related organisations/currents of thought. Membership in the association is open to professional academics but also to corporate and associated members. With membership comes a reduction to the subscription for our new journal (see below). The formation of the society was officially announced in The Hague on 28 November 2008. Discussions on people involved in the leadership and the basis for the societies work has now started. You will find more information on our website under ASRFF.
3) Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism, report ahead of the deadline
Closely related to the establishment of the society is our work on the first issue of the Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism to be
published online and in hard copy in May 2009. The first issue has a thematic focus on freemasonry and fraternal organisations and their influence upon the formation of national identity. We have received a number of interesting contributions, in fact more than we will be able to publish, that now are out on peer review. Furthermore we are preparing a debate section of large importance for our understanding of freemasonry in the international context. Reviews of major academic works in the area have also been submitted. The
manuscripts are planned to be edited by the end of January 2009. For more information, see www.equinoxjournals.com/ojs/
A Call for the second issue due for November 2009 will follow in March.
4) Malcolm Davies installation as professor in the Chair of Freemasonry in Leiden 25 November 2008
In a solemn act of installation in the Auditorium of the University of Leiden/The Netherlands, professor Malcolm Davies presented his inaugural
lecture “Sons of Reason/Children of Light”. In his lecture, professor Davies elaborated upon the importance of a proper analysis of ideas and concepts as represented in masonic sources such as songbooks. By presenting quotations from these sources, professor Davies developed a fascinating panorama on Dutch freemasonry between Enlightenment and Romanticism, universalism and fragmentation. The lecture was followed by a reception kindly hosted by the Grand East of the Netherlands. A copy of the lecture can be obtained through m.g.davies@religion.
5) Applicants workshop for HERA-program on Cultural Dynamics in The Hague 26 November 2008
12 applicants from 6 countries met for a preparatory workshop in The Hague/Netherlands to present potential topics for the upcoming preparation of an application to a large European funding cooperation named Humanities in the European Research Area. The working title of the application is “(COME) Culture of Mobility in Europe, European Mobility of Culture: Fraternal Organisations and their Roll as Cultural Mediators and Carrier-groups”. Minutes and other material from the meeting will be published soon on our website under HERA. To quote from the successful application for the networking grant: “Cultural dynamics can only be created by the mobility of its actors. Culture in European space is characterised by its transgressing qualities. The aim of our preparatory workshop is to discuss these two basic assumptions applied to an analysis of cultural carrier groups (freemasonry and other fraternal organisations) that act as mediators in a cultural transfer in Europe in a period of substantial change between the 18th and 19th centuries.”
6) New French dissertation on symbolism in higher degree French freemasonry defended in Nice
From Nice in France we have received information on the successful defence of another dissertation on freemasonry, co-supervised by Jean-Pierre Brach and Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire. The dissertation titled “Emprunts opératifs, religieux et ésotériques dans les rituels et l’iconographie des tableaux de loge des systèmes français à hauts grades au XVIIIe siècle: contribution à l’étude de la
construction de la tradition maçonnique” by Dr. Dominique Jardin was presented to a most illustrious jury on 23 October and we are very interested in to see it appear in print in due course.
7) Short report from the Second Symposium on the History of Freemasonry in Cuba and the Caribbean in December 2008 and announcement of the third symposium to be organised in Mexico in 2010
From Cuba, Central America and Spain we have received short reports on the second conference on the history of freemasonry in Cuba and the Caribbean that took place in La Habana in the first week of December 2008. We hope that we will be able to send a more detailed account on the event in our next newsletter. For now we just want to notify the formation of a “Centro de Estudios Históricos de la Masonería Latinoamericana y Caribeña (CEHMLAC)”. The center will have a website and eventually a magazine. The next symposium will be held in Mexico in 2010.
8) Report from the Conference “The Expression of Freemasonry” 27-28 November 2008 in The Hague by Dr. Robert Collis
Organised by Professor Malcolm Davis and the University of Leiden Venue: The International School of The Hague (The Hague) Thursday 27th-Friday 28th November 2008
On a chilly, late autumnal morning a healthy mix of academics and freemasons gathered to attend “The Expression of Freemasonry” conference organised by Professor Malcolm Davis, the newly installed Chair for the Study of Freemasonry at the University of Leiden. The opening addresses, which were positive and open-minded, set the mood for the whole conference. After a welcoming talk by Peter Kotrc, the Principal of the International School of the Hague, Diederik van Rossum, the Grand Master of the Grand East of the Netherlands, addressed the audience. The main theme of this address was the need for the Masonic community to engage in rigorous dialogue with the academic community in order for the brotherhood to assess its rich past and to be able to meet the new demands of the twenty-first century. He emphasised European cooperation as the way forward. This sentiment is strongly endorsed by the CRFF.
The theme of the first day of the conference was Freemasonry: Art and Theatre, and proceedings began with a keynote speech by Professor James Stevens Curl. The choice to begin the conference with an address from Professor Curl was a shrewd move as he spoke with verve and erudition about the various Masonic stage-sets used in productions of Mozarts Die Zauberflöte. The second paper of the morning session was presented by Professor Jeffrey Thyssens, who spoke about the cultural-historical importance of Masonic tombstones. While principally focussing on tombstones in Belgium, Professor Thyssens outlined an analytical perspective that can be applied by other scholars in different contexts. Leonard H. Lubitz gave the last lecture of the morning session. He spoke with enthusiasm about the apparently abundant Masonic symbolism visible
in a whole host of American cities.
The afternoon session began with a keynote speech by Dr. Andrew Pink on the interesting topic of freemasons in early eighteenth-century London theatres. He expertly outlined the tradition of Masonic theatre visits in the first half of the eighteenth-century. Moreover, he placed these visits (that incorporated grand processions along the Strand) within the wider context of British politics, thereby illustrating the mixed feelings they engendered. The second paper of the afternoon session, by Pauline van den Heuvel, examined the complex relationship between performing arts and freemasonry in Amsterdam between 795-1844. Through Ms van den Heuvel’s astute analysis it soon became apparent that performing artists in Amsterdam in this period were attracted to freemasonry for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, it was intriguing to learn that artists initiated into lodges soon left to form their own fraternal society, entitled VW, before some later returned to the fold in later life. As a footnote it might be of interest that such fraternities for performers of aesthetic professions also were formed in other European countries such as Par Bricole in Sweden (founded in 1779 by the famous Swedish singer-songwriter Carl Michael Bellman). Naturally the interest of CRFF was caught by this presentation, as it was an excellent example for what research into the wider
area of “fraternalism” might disclose.
The last paper, by Jimmy Koppen, continued the Low Countries emphasis by undertaking an examination of the Masonic network surrounding the Royal Flemish Theatre in Brussels from 1875. A persuasive case was argued for viewing the creation of the theatre as a political action of the Brusssels’ freemasons.
The early evening session commenced with a lecture by Dr. J.K. Birksted on Le Corbusier, the Parisian avant-garde and freemasonry. Dr. Birksted considered the Masonic milieu of Le Corbusier’s childhood hometown, before briefly discussing the eighteenth-century Masonic concepts of vision and their influence on the artist. In our opinion, this fascinating topic was worthy of greater elaboration. The last lecture of the day, presented by Diane Clements, analysed Victorian illustrations of freemasonry. Drawing on a variety of sources, the speaker skilfully revealed how illustrations depicting masons were redolent of the historical and cultural context in which they were produced.
The second day of the conference focussed on the theme of Freemasonry: the written word, art and music. After opening addresses from Dr. Wim Hofstee, of
The University of Leiden, and Dr. Andreas Önnerfors of our own CRFF, the day began with a keynote address by Professor Natalie Bayer. As a historian of Russia, I must confess that I was particularly looking forward to this lecture. Fortunately, I was not let down as Professor Bayer elucidated the Masonic influences on the emergence of a national Russian literary movement with clarity and eloquence. The second lecture of the morning, by Dr. David Bjelajac, propounded a Masonic and alchemical interpretation of John Singleton Copley’s painting entitled Watson and the Shark. Whilst unfortunately not being able to prove that the artist himself was a freemason, the speaker interpreted many aspects of the painting in light of Masonic symbolism. The concluding lecture of the morning session, by Max de Haan, drew attention to the important role played by friendly societies in Dutch life over the past two hundred years.
Our own Dr. Önnerfors began proceedings in the afternoon with a keynote speech entitled The Power of the Un-outspoken: Do we really understand Performance? This extremely stimulating and thought-provoking lecture argued that the re-performance/ re-enactment of Masonic rituals can play an important methodological role in helping historians to comprehend nuances not described on the printed page. The second lecture of the afternoon, by Dr. Giovanna Costantini, focussed on the way in which the Russian playwright, Nikolai Evreinov, invoked Masonic imagery in allusions to death and the life journey in
his play The Merry Death. This insightful paper revealed the complex nature of Evrenov’s theatrical vision, which matured in the so-called silver age of Russian literature and drama. The last lecture of the afternoon, by John Crow, assessed Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code- that fine work of early twenty-first century American fiction- in relation to Duncan’s Royal Arch ritual.
In the early evening session Andréa Kroon sought to revise common assumptions regarding George Washington’s Masonic apron. Undertaking a detailed examination of the iconography and embroidery of the apron, the speaker argued that it could have originated from China. The honour of presenting the concluding paper of the conference fell to Aimee Newell, who spoke about samplers depicting KingSolomon’s Temple present in the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts.
By the close of the conference the assembled audience had heard an astonishingly wide range of papers that powerfully demonstrated the significant role played by expressions of freemasonry; not only in the Craft itself, but also in society as a whole. Great credit is due to Professor Malcolm Davis for orchestrating such a well-conceived conference at the beginning of his tenure as the Chair for the Study of Freemasonry at The University of Leiden.
Alongside the international conference in Edinburgh and the annual Canonbury conference, this event highlighted the fruits that can be harvested by promoting the academic study of freemasonry.
2008. december 31., szerda
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