Lars Cyril Nørgaard

Lars Cyril Nørgaard

Associate Professor

My undergraduate studies in theology at the University of Copenhagen was completed with a Master thesis on the Gospel of Mark (in Danish), which was awarded Collegium Biblicum’s annual prize (see Collegium Biblicum Årsskrift, Vol. 16, 2012, s. 63-69.)

In 2014, I became Ph.D. fellow at SOLITUDES: Withdrawal and Engagement in the long 17th-century (ERC). During my time in this position I have been affiliated to Centre Roland Mousnier, UMR 8596, Université Paris-Sorbonne (2014-2015) and to Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Durham (2015)

Primary fields of research

Devotional praxis in the 17th-century, specifically La direction spirituelle - Religion and Politics at the court of Louis XIV - the Bishop of Chartres, Paul Godet des Marais (1647-1709) - The morganatic wife of Louis XIV, Françoise d’Aubigné (1635-1719) - La Maison Royale de Saint Louis (1686-1793) - Gender and religious authority in the 17th- century - Quietism -  Jansenism - German Pietism - Early modern reception of the Desert Fathers, Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux - Theories of enunciation in Louis Marin’s work.

Current research

My present research, carried out within the interdisciplinary research framework of SOLITUDES, is on spiritual direction and its developments in France during 1630-1700. I am especially interested in the ways in which the self is related to the truth about itself in such direction. 

During my archival work in Paris I unearthed what is believed to be the entire corpus of letters  written by the bishop of Chartres, Paul Godet des Marias (1647-1709), to Mme de Maintenon (1635-1719), the morganatic wife of Louis XIV. This is in itself an important discovery, which sheds new light on the devotional outlooks of one of the most controversial figures of the Grand Siècle. First, I tackle the material challenges that come with Godet des Marais’ letters: only copies survive and piecing the individual letters together is in itself an important task; understanding the transmission of the copies another. These essentially material questions have brought about new and important insights into the everyday spiritual praxis of Mme de Maintenon (see L. Nørgaard & H. Pasquier, "Les Petits Carnets de Mme de Maintenon: Grandeur de la direction spirituelle?" In: Revue de l'histoire des Religions, Avril  2016). Furthermore, I will for the first time present the complete transcription of all letters with variants in my Ph.D. thesis: Au lieu de la couronne: Figures of Withdrawal and Engagement in Paul Godet des Marais’ letters of spiritual direction (Nov. 2016).

Within the research programme SOLITUDES: Withdrawal and Engagement in the long 17th-century, I focus on the ways in which Godet des Marais voices a paradoxical ideal of withdrawal from and engagement in the world. Ranging over the whole corpus of Godet des Marais’ letters, figures of withdrawal and engagement become clear . To convey an analysis and interpretation of such figures make out my present research goal.

During my research on Godet des Marais, I have had the good fortune of engaging with and learning from a number of excellent scholars in the international field of early modern studies, coming from mainly France, Britain, Belgium and Germany. Equally important has been the fundamental interdisciplinary framework of SOLITUDES. Working alongside my colleagues in Copenhagen has had a profound impact on my understanding of how the material side of my research object overlaps with its interpretation.  

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