Netherlands, Nijmegen

Reading Mystical Texts

when 13 August 2018 - 17 August 2018
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 ECTS
fee EUR 485

Contrary to religion, which seems to have lost its self-evidence, spirituality and mysticism make a better press. In the writings of the mystics, many find what they miss in institutional religion. Yet, what the study of the mystical corpus all too often neglects is the surprisingly critical dimension of the mystical tradition. The close-readings of Ruusbroec, Hadewijch, Meister Eckhart, Fénelon, Simone Weil, and others will discover that neglected dimension.

The Radboud Summer School Reading Mystical Texts offers a promenade through some of the major mystical texts from the Christian tradition. Experts in that field explore in their reading the richness exemplified in the selected passages. One of their focuses is the critical dimension present in these mystical texts and the latter's potential for contemporary thought. In times when the Cartesian Ego was not yet fully established, it was already being 'deconstructed' in the writings of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. In the works of Meister Eckhart, Ruusbroec and Thomas a Kempis, the criticism of the emerging 'bourgeois' mentality was already an important aspect.

Not only is the mystical tradition inherently critical, it has itself become an important reference for contemporary cultural criticism as well. One of the basic texts in Christian mysticism, Pseudo-Dionysius' Celestial Hierarchies, lays bare the hidden fundamentals of Western political power, so the philosopher Giorgio Agamben argues. A number of other contemporary critical theologians and philosophers, such as Michel Foucault and John Caputo, are also inspired by writings from the mystical tradition.

Course leader

Prof. Dr. Peter Nissen
Professor of Spirituality Studies
Radboud University

Target group

Master, PhD, Postdoc, Professional. This course is designed for Master, PhD students, Post-Docs, and Professionals in the fields of Theology, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Culture and Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The course is highly recommended for interdisciplinary oriented students with a strong interest in the religious and mystical legacy of the Christian tradition.Participants are Master students, PhD students, postdocs and professionals from faculties of Theology, Religious Studies, and Philosophy, or Arts faculties and faculties like cultural studies, humanities, and social sciences who have an interest in both Western mystical tradition and modern cultural criticism.

Course aim

After this course you are able to:
- read and analyze exemplary texts from the mystical tradition of western Christianity,
- detect the critical dimension in those texts,
- see how the mystical texts conceal 'dispositives' and 'structures' at work in the non-religious (political/ethical/cultural) discourses of modernity,
- understand the connection between the 'old' classic mystical argumentation and today's way of dealing with social and cultural challenges.

Fee info

EUR 485: The fee includes the registration fees, course materials, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, lunch, and a number of social activities.


We offer several reduced fees:
€ 437         early bird discount – deadline 1 April 2018 (10%)
€ 412         partner + RU discount (15%)
€ 364         early bird + partner discount (25%)

Register for this course
on course website