The THESIS project proposes a pioneering study of a coherent corpus of medieval manuscripts consisting of all the commentaries on the Sentences composed in Paris and in the new universities from Central Europe between 1350-1450. A Sentences commentary is a core component of the medieval academic curriculum, a collection of theses that scholars had to defend in the universities in order to obtain the title of master or doctor of theology; it is actually the unique equivalent of our modern PhD thesis.
This investigation aims to provide new information concerning the intellectual atmosphere inside the European universities in an attempt to respond to various historical questions: How do the Sentences commentaries of this period lead to the formation of a European university identity? Who are the masters of the time? What is the importance of a Sentences commentary (the modern PhD) in the development of a individual intellectual career during the late Middle Ages? What are the relations and exchanges between the University of Paris and the new universities of Central Europe? Which are the commentaries acquired (by purchase and thus at the request of the readers) in the university libraries of this epoch and in this area of Europe? What are the cultural exchanges between secular masters, monks and friars? How do the religious orders constitute an important factor in the formation of a network for the transfer of knowledge in the universities?
Research in the archives (mainly little known ones from Eastern Europe), the study of the manuscripts, the digital edition of the texts and the development of new IT tools for our field will be key components of our project, contributing to a better understanding of a hidden part of European intellectual history. Our project is built upon a strategy promoting erudition (codicology, palaeography, textual criticism), an interdisciplinary scientific approach, and exchange and dialogue between scholars from Western and Eastern Europe.
The project is directed by Monica Brînzei (IRHT, Paris), and it is financed by an ERC Starting Grant (n° 313339).