Western Monasticism ante litteram. The Spaces of Monastic Observance in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Disciplina Monastica, Book 7)
Space has always played a crucial part in defining the placethat monks and nuns occupy in the world. Even during the firstcenturies of the monastic phenomenon, when the possible varietiesof monastic practice were nearly infinite, there was a commonthread in the need to differentiate the monk from the rest:whatever else they were supposed to be, monks were beings apart,unique, in some sense separate from the mainstream. The physicalcontours of monastic topographies, natural and constructed, arethus fundamental to an understanding of how early monks went aboutdefining the parameters of their everyday lives, their modes ofreligious observance, and their interactions with the larger worldaround them. The group of eminent historians and archaeologistspresent at the American Academy in Rome in March, 2007 for theconference Western monasticism ante litteram. The spaces of earlymonastic observance, whose contributions comprise the bulk of thisvolume, have sought to reconsider the theory, the practice andabove all the spaces of early monasticism in the West, in the hopeof creating a more complete picture of that seminal period, fromthe fourth century until the ninth, when notions of what it meantto be a monk were as numerous as they were varied and (often)conflicting.