Jesuit Historiography Online

Between Religious Instruction and theatrum mundi: The Historiography of Jesuit Drama (Seventeenth to Twenty-First Centuries)
(14,544 words)

Jost Eickmeyer
Last modified: September 2018

1. Praefatio: Some Remarks on the Material1

Every attempt to reconstruct processes of historiography has to begin with considering the material sources the historiography was based on. In this respect Jesuit drama may seem to prove difficult. As a specific variation of early modern school theater usually performed in Jesuit colleges and—less frequently—during holiday festivities, these plays were produced en masse but only scarcely put into print. The sheer amount of plays and performances (450 plays and 7,650 performances until 1600—in the German provinces alone)2 written and staged by ludi magistri (also called patres choragi) in Jesuit schools all across Europe and usually performed at the beginning or the end of the school year3 marks this literary genre as deeply rooted in the Jesuit curriculum, but also as highly ephemeral in terms of preservation. A substantial part of the authors of Jesuit school plays between Paraguay and Goa, between Vilnius and Messina remains anonymous to this day. The poets who saw a printed edition of their dramas were only few, and usually the most famous ones, e. g. Bernardino Stef(f)onio (1560–1620), Niccolò Avancini (1611–86), Nicolas Caussin (1583–1651), Denis Petau (1583–1652), Jacob Bidermann (1578–1639), or Joseph Simons (i. e. Emmanuel Lobb, 1594–1671).

However, a particular quality of early modern Jesuit culture counterbalanced this effect of material elusiveness: The organizational imperative to record and report each and every school activity and the consequent need to file these documents in the archives of the schools itself, of the respective provinces or even in Rome (depending on the type of document)4 ensured the survival of important sources which are pertinent to the history of theater and which would otherwise have been inevitably lost. Manuscript accounts of performances, bills of expenses for theatrical machinery, theater sheets, epitomized short versions of plays and, last but not least, complete textbooks can still be found in Jesuit archives to this day thus allowing modern researchers important insights into circumstances of production and into the texts themselves. Even if we reckon that certainly not every school drama was recorded and that archive materials were lost over the centuries, still the extant sources all over Europe and in the colonies have not yet been exhausted by historiographers. As a consequence, the Jesuit plays, although hardly ever printed in early modern times, instigated a constantly growing amount of scholarly research: a slightly paradoxical relation, especially when compared to other genres.5 Whereas literary historians have only begun to map the vast field of Jesuit epic or lyrical poetry for the last couple of decades (genres of texts usually printed and widely distributed in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries), the research on Jesuit drama is well established and flourishing.

This is why my following outline of the history and evolution of the historiography of Jesuit drama does by no means aim for completeness in bibliographical terms.6 But this necessarily subjective selection of texts quoted from and referred to is meant to illustrate by example the most important states, trends and dimensions of the historiography of Jesuit drama.

2. Auctoritates: Early Modern “Historical” Takes on Jesuit Drama

Just like the material foundations for a literary history of Jesuit theater were laid by archivists, catalogers, and the Jesuit administration in early modern times, the literary historiography itself harkens back to roughly the same period. The Ratio studiorum had provided school drama with a fixed place and an important role in the everyday life of Jesuit schools. And it had done so with a view to publicity as well as moral education.7 A first grain of historical consciousness, however, enters the literary scene when a handful of plays are collected and printed in anthologies, which happened as early as in the seventeenth century.8 Take, for example, the two volumes of a collection for schools printed in Antwerp in 1634 and entitled Selectae Patrum Societatis Iesu tragoedia.9 It collects plays mainly by French and Belgian Jesuits: Denis Petau and Louis Cellot (1588–1658), Carel Malapert (1581–1630) and Jacob Libenus (1603–78), while Alessandro Donati (1584–1640) and Bernardino Stefonio represent the apogee of Italian Jesuit drama at the turn of the sixteenth century.10 With Libenus, the younger generation is also present. On the one hand, this selection marks a canonization process. The best and most exemplary playwrights from France, Belgium, and Italy were chosen, with Libenius as “local hero” from an Antwerp perspective. Note also that one name is missing that one might have expected: Stefano Tucci, professor at the earliest Jesuit college at Messina, whose apocalyptic play Christus Iudex (1569) was immediately translated into three vernacular languages. His “traditional” biblical theater seems to be replaced by the more “modern” playwrights Donati and Stefonio who preferred historical subjects.11 This hypothesis is further corroborated by the selection of the plays itself: Three quarters of the compilation are comprised of history plays beginning with Donati’s Suevia set in twelfth-century Naples.12 Only Libenus’s Joseph13 and Petau’s Sisaras14 display more traditional subjects taken from the Old Testament, while Malapert’s Sedecias15 stands between the biblical and the historical genre: His dramatization of the revolt of Zedekiah, King of Judah, draws on the Old Testament as well as on Flavius Josephus’ De bello Judaico.16 In a way, this anthology’s primary intent is not to reflect a given state of Jesuit drama by presenting a carefully measured picture of the productions so far, but to influence literary taste and set (new) standards for poetic imitation: more profane and ecclesiastical history instead of biblical subjects.17

There is one more observation I would like to add: In his preface addressed to the “young people who are eager to learn,” the printer Gaspar Estricx recommends his two volumes as a reliable source for decent reading and skillful imitation. Following the topical rhetoric of prefaces he imagines a critic who wants to know Seneca’s tragedies in the hands of young readers, and Seneca’s only.18 He continues:

I have no doubt: If Seneca could read the more recent tragedies, he would find a lot in Malapert, a lot in Stefonio, a lot in others, which he deemed worthy of his own pen. The truth is: Let us admire the ancient playwrights, but let us not despise the many writers of our times who, if they had been allowed to live in the Golden Age, would have been listened to by the ancient poets with great delight.19

Faced with the dilemma between humanist admiration of classical culture and artistic self-esteem, this preface picks the latter’s side. And its author illustrates his argument in two ways: Firstly, he minimizes the historical distance by imagining Seneca as reader of the Jesuit playwrights who recognizes them as equals; secondly, he turns this argument around and imagines Malapert and Stefonio as living in the aurea aetas—and the ancient poets as their keen audience! Only a rhetorical trick that aims at the justification of contemporary Jesuit drama? True, but at the same time there is a specific form of historical consciousness concealed behind this trick: Within a process of succession it is exactly this selection of authors and text that does not only imitate but can even surpass the ancient classical poets.

A similar, albeit more implicit, presence of “historicity” can be found in a edition published thirty years later. A group of anonymous editors, probably Jesuits, collected, edited and printed the tragedies and comedies of Jacob Bidermann in two substantial volumes: the Ludi theatrales (1666).20 At that time Bidermann had been dead for almost thirty years. Nevertheless an edition of his (tragico-)comedies was “eagerly expected by the public” as the  editors’ preface states.21 The plays themselves were Bidermann’s juvenile works from the time he taught at the colleges of Munich and Dillingen (1602–1619). Interestingly enough, he seems to have kept the manuscripts even in Rome where he had worked as theologian and censor for his last thirteen years. These papers must posthumously have been returned to Munich so that the editors could claim to present a print version “following precisely the author’s pen and his very own hand.”22 Even if this claim does not always hold true,23 the implicit demand for staying true to a Jesuit playwright’s intentions even some fifty years after said playwright has written the plays in question—this demand can only be called exceptional. And this exception, I would like to argue, also marks a certain state of historical consciousness. The typical humanist ambition to strive for a “good” text that follows the author’s intentions as closely as possible is now transferred to another object: a contemporary Jesuit poet. Bidermann’s plays are no longer seen as “consumer goods” for the annual school event but as artistically valuable texts whose tradition has to be taken into philological consideration just like in similar cases the tradition of texts written by classical authorities like Virgil, Horace or Cicero. As exceptional as this case may be, it shows that in comparison with their contemporaries, Bidermann’s Munich editors were at least able to see their object from a historical point of view.

Apart from editorial enterprises like the ones presented here (other examples for editions and commentaries point in the same direction),24 the most important contemporary sources of reflection on early modern Jesuit drama were works of literary theory by Jesuit authors. But “literary theory” in the case of early modern Jesuit culture was yet again closely linked to the educational practice of the school system. So it seems reasonable to look into the most important theoretical works in order to find further traces of early historical approaches to Jesuit theater. But upon a closer look one might have to face a disappointment. A primary source for Jesuit reflections on literature at the beginning of the seventeenth century is the monumental Bibliotheca selecta de Ratione studiorum composed by the missionary, diplomat, and bibliographer Antonio Possevino (1534–1611).25 This encyclopedic two-part handbook (first edition in 1593) was meant as an introduction of the Catholic world to every field of learning, with a particular stress on what the reader should read—and what not. Maybe it was this focus on learning from books that automatically excluded the art of theater performance from Possevino’s interest. The seventeenth book of the Bibliotheca selecta that treated literature and art was often reprinted separately from the rest of the collection. Each and every genre handed down from classical tradition is thoroughly explained here and illustrated by examples even from contemporary literature, including Jesuit literature. But there is no chapter on theater. In the twenty-first chapter of the seventeenth book Possevino gives a comprehensive list (“Elenchus”) of recommended poets from all times who had either written about religious subjects or at least abstained from any kind of indecent writing or obscenity. In this list, the curious reader finds Seneca’s tragedies, of course, but apart from these? Christus patiens ascribed to St. Gregory of Nazianz (c.329–90), Ovis perdita by the Dutch humanist Jacobus Zovitius (b.1512), the pious comedies and tragedies of a certain “Martoranus,”26 the plays by Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (c.935– after 973), and a polemical tragedy Possevino ascribes to the fifth-century grammarian Timotheus of Gaza (fl. 491–518).27 That is all. As interesting as this compilation in itself may be, hardly any historical perspective can be attributed to it.

So the search continues with a consultation of the most important works of Jesuit poetics in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. But again: neither the famous and widely used Poeticarum instititionum libri tres (1594) by the “Jesuit Erasmus” (Rädle) Jacob Pontanus28 (1542–1626) nor the equally famous and successful Palaestra eloquentiae ligatae by the Cologne professor Jacob Masen (1606–81)29 provides a particularly historical approach to drama. Both theorists come from a practical background as college teachers. Both of them are “classicists” in the sense that they provide a systematic instruction of literary production harkening back to Aristotle, Horace, and Julius Caesar Scaliger, even though Masen claims to differ significantly from his predecessors.30 It is precisely this systematic approach to the poetics of drama that allows Pontanus and Masen a comprehensive presentation of forms, contents and functions of plays in general but at the same time keeps them from reflecting more extensively on the historical particularities of Jesuit theater.31

It might have been too early for the Augsburg Professor Pontanus at the end of the sixteenth century to reflect on the state of the art of Jesuit drama. Differences between the auctoritates of the classical era and his contemporaries are only alluded to, e. g. at the end of his definition of tragedy, when Pontanus admits to “having prudently omitted the rest, because it is not relevant here and furthermore, because it is—more so than the aspects I have mentioned —abhorred by the customs of our time.”32 Instead of commenting on contemporary theater, Pontanus took up the pen himself and wrote two exemplary comedies to be added in the Tyrocinium poeticum, a copious appendix to his Institutiones, where the interested student could find examples for every single genre the professor mentioned in his book. Forty years prior to the publication of the Antwerp anthology of Jesuit drama, Pontanus presented one biblical play, the Immolatio Isaac, and one profane subject in Stratocles (namely the choice of a young man between being a mercenary and being a student).33 Both plays had been performed at Pontanus’s college beforehand. A third one, the biblical tragedy Eleazarus Machabaeus, was added in the third edition of the Tyrocinium in 1600.

In Masen’s Palaestra eloquentiae ligatae, the only chapter to show traces of a historical classification of Jesuit drama offers recommendations for the imitation of the classics. Just like the editor of the anthology in 1634, Masen has to mark a crucial difference to classical drama while at the same time informing the reader on how to imitate it. It comes as no surprise either that Christian subjects are preferred to pagan ones, or that, in the middle of the seventeenth century, Seneca figures as the authority of tragedy. But it is worth noting how Masen construes the relation between ancient examples and contemporary drama:

Imitation, which is the paramount feature for exercises in drama, can either pertain to subjects and concepts or to vocabulary and phrasing (as I have pointed out elsewhere). Nowadays we disregard the subjects treated by classical poets, and rightfully so, because Christian history supplies us with abundant material for poetical treatment. […]. When it comes to phrasing in tragedies, Seneca surpasses anyone else, although among more recent playwrights I would compare to him Grotius with his Christus patiens, Libenus with his Iosephus, Malapert with his Sisaras, Stefoni with his Crispus – all plays of the highest quality.34

It is probably no coincidence that three of the plays Masen deems as valuable as Seneca’s had already been reprinted in the 1634 anthology. Modern Jesuit tragedies and their international authors seem to at least match the standards of ancient authorities. And when such a match cannot be found the Cologne professor does as his predecessor in Augsburg did: He composes the exemplary plays himself. For, as far as comedy is concerned, Masen dissuades his readers from the imitation of any ancient example. Leaving aside the considerable differences between them, Masen argues that all of the four famous ancient comedy writers, Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, and Terence, are “buffoons” with outlandish phrasing and preposterous, at times even obscene, subjects. So Masen proposes a “middle course” of imitating them: softening the outdated phrasing of Plautus with Terence’s more perspicuous style while balancing Terence’s want of poetic expression by applying the moral perceptiveness of Plautus.35 As examples for this “mixed” imitation Masen refers to comedies of his own which he attaches as an appendix to his theoretical work.36

To sum up the observations: While Possevino had only a vague grasp on the tradition of dramatic literature, Masen and Pontanus may be considered cornerstones of the history of Jesuit drama because their thoroughly composed works provide theoretical background as well as original plays, treating biblical as well as historical subjects. But in a way, the authors’ take on the subject is by far more practical than historical, so they rather write exemplary comedies and tragedies themselves instead of considering the historical state of contemporary drama.

This relative scarcity of reflection on the state of Jesuit theater within literary history lasted well into the eighteenth century. Having said that, the production of and reflection on Jesuit theater in the eighteenth century has attracted far less research interest than the respective texts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Until very recently, the state of literary history of drama in this late era of the “old” Society of Jesus was almost unknown territory. In 2012, the extensive work of Stefan Tilg on Jesuit theater in Tyrolia in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has shed more light on this later phase of Jesuit school drama.37 Furthermore, a monograph by Nienke Tjoelker provides us with a thorough edition and critical evaluation of the Letter on Tragedies written around 1741–44 by Andreas Fri(t)z (1711–90).38 Just like his baroque predecessors, Friz taught grammar and poetics (at colleges in Linz and Bratislava) and wrote a number of school plays, most of them published between 1738 and 1761.39 Tjoelker shows how in his manuscript pamphlet Friz tries to spur innovations in the Jesuit drama – at the time still performed mainly in Latin but, of course, under pressure by the prevalence of vernacular literature. In order to achieve these innovations, Friz strongly suggests the example of French classicist dramatists, particularly Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine and, in the field of comedy, even Molière. Tjoelker furthermore analyzes how this idea of a transfer from French classicist theater into reflections on a new kind of drama (also present, at the time, in Germany and Italy) permeated the works not only of Friz but also his fellow Jesuit theorists Franz Neumayr (1676–1765) and especially Ignaz Weitenauer (1709–83).40 It becomes obvious that there was a shared need for innovation among these authors that emerged in the demand to diminish the influence of humanist and baroque Jesuit theater and to rather install a “new” tradition which relies on the classicist tragedy of seventeenth-century France. But the point for my argument is:  To make such a demand requires a strong consciousness of the historical state (and difficult situation) of contemporary Jesuit drama on the part of Friz or Weitenauer.

The suppression of the Societas in 1762 and 1773 meant a rupture for the tradition of and reflection on Jesuit school drama. Even after the restoration in 1814 the Fathers were not able to renew the tradition to the full extent of its former glory. The school plays fully became a subject of literary history in the modern sense.

3. Amplificationes: The “Renaissance” of Jesuit Drama in Modern Research

3.1: Foundations and Early Tendencies of Modern Jesuit Drama Studies

Modern research on Jesuit drama began with a few seminal, mainly bibliographical works in the second half of the nineteenth century, increased in the years before World War One, but has only emerged into the vast field of scholarship that it is now since the second half of the twentieth century. As noticed above, Jesuit dramatists were of course mentioned in the monumental bibliographical enterprise, the Bibliothèque de la Compagnie des Jésus (1890–1900), just as they had their place in Father Alexander Baumgartner’s (1841–1910) Geschichte der Weltliteratur.41 But due to particular circumstances in different European territories, especially rough debates about the social relevance of Catholicism, e. g. in Italy and Germany (the “Kulturkampf”), Catholic literature was not always the subject of choice among scholars. Add to that the different ideological backdrops of literary history as expressed mainly in their classifications of literary periods. As the “classical” period in French literary history, the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were just the ones when Jesuit drama had flourished. German literary historians, however, conceptualized their “classical” period as the era of Lessing, Schiller and Goethe, when a strong opposition against every feature of baroque culture had already buried the most part of Jesuit literature in oblivion.

Interestingly enough, though, it was in Germany and France that the pioneer works in the historiography of Jesuit drama were written and published. In 1880, Ernest Boysse (b.1836) published the first monograph on Jesuit theater in France.42 This book was particularly important because Boysse not only established Jesuit drama as a fruitful field of research alongside French classicism but also provided a comprehensive and systematic repertory of texts and theater sheets from the Collège Louis-le-Grand.43 There were quite a few earlier French essays and articles on school theaters at different provincial colleges (like Metz, Avranches, etc.), but Boysse was the first to dedicate a whole book to the subject. By focusing on the prestigious college of Paris, he attracted the attention of scholars in the field of French historiography as well as literary history. A similar motive—to focus on an illustrious center of Jesuit school drama—may have informed the analogous seminal study in Germany. The renowned scholar in the field of early modern humanism and neo-Latin literature Karl von Reinhardstöttner (1847–1909) published a long article about Jesuit drama performances at the college in Munich.44 Just like Boysse, he presented a number of theater sheets and listed all the plays that could be verified at the time. In a way, both studies set the tone for a main branch of scholarship on Jesuit drama. As its main characteristic one may determine the mixture of presenting the (local) historical context to the plays and providing bibliographical data of the archive material. These works were immediately followed by similar enterprises.45

A first German attempt to set up a synopsis of Jesuit theater as well as the so-called “monastery plays” (“Klosterdrama”) was undertaken by Josef Zeidler (1855–1911) in 1891. But his attempt to simply distinguish types of Jesuit plays according to their accordance with or difference from the Vienna popular theater (“Wiener Volkstheater”) could not prove successful. The most valuable part of his study is the appendix: Zeidler presents theater sheets and abstracts of five plays by Joseph Simons and even quotes longer passages from the texts themselves adding some (not always reliable) commentaries.46 If a collection of texts always relies on the intention of canonization, as claimed above for the anthology of 1634, Zeidler’s appendix might be interpreted as a first attempt in this direction. And his study had its effects: Zeidler’s strong claim that Simons’s tragedy Leo Armenius was a source of inspiration for the German baroque playwright Andreas Gryphius and his drama (by the same title)47 had an immediate impact: Willi Harring dedicated his PhD dissertation from 1907 entirely to a comparison of the two plays and the influence of Jesuit theater on German baroque tragedy.48 By pointing out this influence on a famous and incontestably canonized author like Gryphius, Harring stresses the historical importance of Jesuit drama as a previously neglected literary genre. By that, he sets a third research trend that would be taken up every now and then in the following decades: comparing Jesuit drama to canonized literature of the same era.

A more reliable synopsis of Jesuit theater culture in Germany could be found in the copious work that was to become the groundwork for every future research on Jesuits in Germany: Father Bernhard Duhr’s (1852–1930) History of the Jesuits in the German-speaking Territories (1907–28).49 Apart from giving a short but adequate overview in the second volume, Duhr also presents four exemplary playwrights in more detail: Avancini, Masen, Balde, and Bidermann. At about the same time, a new French monograph was published in Paris: Less encyclopedic in scope, but with a clear focus on Jesuit theater, L.-V. Gofflot’s Le théâtre au Collège du Moyen Âge à nos jours expands Boysse’s view from the Collège Louis-Le-Grand to the provincial Jesuit stages of La Flèche, Bourges and Caen.50 Another important innovation came with Gofflot’s sixth chapter (“Les élèves des jésuites”), where the author underlines the influence of Jesuit education on the most important poets and philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, starting with Corneille and finishing with Voltaire. He suggests a new historical perspective on their production of tragedies and comedies harkening back to their early contact with the school drama of their Jesuit teachers.51

During the 1920s, scholars of (predominantly) German literary history reclaimed the baroque era as a profitable field of research.52 Whoever was interested in the history of Jesuit theater largely benefitted from this development, and two landmark publications were printed in 1930: Willi Flemming edited his 350 pages of The Religious Drama (Das Ordensdrama) in the most renowned academic series of German literary history,53 and the Tokyo professor (and Jesuit) Johannes Müller published his two-volume monograph on The Jesuit Drama in German-speaking Territories (1555–1665).54 Flemming’s book not only officially introduced Jesuit drama into the mainstream of German literary history, it also presented—after an instructive foreword—the largest amount of source materials to date: excerpts from Masen’s Palaestra eloquentiae, Bidermann’s most successful comedy Cenodoxus in a German translation by Joachim Meichel (1635), Avancini’s Pietas victrix, and one play by Rettenpacher.55 Flemming chose exactly those three playwrights because they represent two generations of religious drama in baroque Germany, and Flemming classified the phases of Jesuit theater by no other distinction than generations. The main argument in his earlier monograph from 1923 had been that a unifying concept of Jesuit theater must be flawed because three generations of playwrights strongly differed from each other in terms of style, intentions and the theatrical apparatus they worked with.56 Johannes Müller apparently imitated the title of Flemming’s older book, but he did so while at the same time rejecting Flemming’s main argument. From the perspective of the history of mentality (“Geistesgeschichte”) Müller argues for the spiritual unity of Jesuit drama within its changing forms. He differentiates between an early “renaissance” phase influenced by biblical drama and popular moral plays, a second phase of transition, and a third phase of “baroque realism” which he mainly identifies with the works of Jacob Bidermann.57 After that the baroque (as we know it) era is yet to come, and Müller distinguishes two more phases: one during the Thirty Years’ War, when “realism” (in Müller’s view) deteriorated into sheer “naturalism,” and a phase of fully fledged allegorical baroque art and mannerism which he associates with Avancini.58

As contestable as this distinction of periods of Jesuit drama and the notion of “realism” and “naturalism” may be, Müller’s arguments for a spiritual unity underlying all forms of Jesuit theater were quickly adopted by other scholars. Moreover, he enhanced the bibliographical standards in the second volume of his study by giving prosopographical data about a lot of Jesuit playwrights, title lists of their plays, dates of performances as well as catalogues of motifs and mythological and historical figures recurring on the Jesuit stage.

At this point the historiography of Jesuit drama was not an enterprise for only German or French historians anymore. Father William H. McCabe received his PhD for a profound study focusing on the Jesuit college of St. Omer where Joseph Simons had taught and written his major plays. McCabe’s book was not published, but its aspects were divulged in a series of articles. They offered the first systematic approach to the influence of English Jesuit poets on continental theatrical culture through their (exile) Colleges on the continent.59 And in Central and Eastern Europe, where in the aftermath of World War One national identities were lost and found, scholars picked up the baton and published groundbreaking studies on their respective traditions of Catholic school drama.60 These monographs were small and deeply rooted in the practices of contemporary positivist historiography, but nevertheless demonstrated how eagerly modern Catholic communities tried to implement Jesuit theatrical traditions into their own literary history. Although the communist era would make these enterprises more and more difficult in the East, they would find their successors.

3.2: Emerging European Perspectives

It was not until after the Second World War that a re-evaluation of scholarly interests and of the directions of future research could take place. The “triplet” of scholarly tasks which I have defined above remains intact: presenting historical contexts, compiling bibliographical data, and/or comparing Jesuit writing to contemporary canonized literature. But now priorities changed substantially. On the one hand, some scholar’s ambition to present Jesuit theater as a crucially “modern” one produced rather bold arguments. On the other hand, the large amount of bibliographical data instigated the need for philologically profound modern editions of the source texts. As an example for the first phenomenon, I refer to Henry Schnitzler and his well-informed essay in the 1952 issue of the Educational Theatre Journal.61 He sums up the most important research trends, paints a vivid historical picture of early modern Jesuit theater, and rightfully points out connections to spiritual practices of meditation and imagination, which were very important features of Ignatius’s Ejercicios espirituales.62 However, when Schnitzler argues that eighteenth-century Jesuits with their opulent public performances were direct predecessors of a government-funded model of “educational” cultural politics or when he goes so far as to ascribe the development of modern cinematography to a technology of “moving pictures” experimented with by Athanasius Kircher (1602–80),63 a more prosaic historical mind might consider these hypotheses too far-fetched. The philological trend in Jesuit studies spawned a series of editions and translations. Kurt Adel’s presentation of manuscript school plays by the late baroque playwright Johann Baptist Adolph (1657–1708) still seemed rather “traditional”: His introduction to the transcriptions of the Latin texts evokes a “combination of Being and Meaning” that Adel claims to be characteristic of Jesuit plays.64 Franz Günter Sieveke, later one of the most important scholars in Jesuit studies, dedicated his PhD dissertation entirely to Adolph, now presenting and analyzing three of his plays with a firmer philological grasp than Adel.65 Other editors, mostly from German and Hispanic studies, tried different approaches: Some combined editorial work with thorough interpretations of the texts, like Harald Burger’s pioneer study on Bidermanns Belisarius,66 others, like Max Wehrli and Rolf Tarot, preferred text editions, occasionally with a German translation. Both scholars edited texts by Bidermann, whose Cenodoxus (1605) soon became the most famous Jesuit play of German literary history.67 This literary fame was probably the reason for the first English translation of the play in the 1970s.68

Around the same time, Nigel Griffin translated two Spanish plays for a series of student textbooks69—no ordinary choice because Spanish Jesuit drama was by no means a major research interest at that time. Early beginnings in the 1920s to 1940s almost single-handedly undertaken by Justo García Soriano (1884–1949) found no successors to speak of.70 Hence, in his pioneer edition in the field of Hispanic studies, Agostín de la Granja strongly urged his academic colleagues to direct their work into the neglected field of Jesuit theater.71 It may come as a surprise, but in incontestably Catholic territories of Europe, in Spain and Portugal, there was hardly any research on Jesuit drama before the second half of the twentieth century. The traditional historiography of Spanish theater had always put its main emphasis on the major playwrights of the Spanish Golden Age, such as Calderón de la Barca, Tirso de Molina, or Lope de Vega. Even though Spanish Jesuit theater had every now and then been acknowledged as a possible influence on the major poets of the era, it was never prominently mentioned in the usual surveys of Spanish literary history.72 As late as 1995, the monograph of Jesús Menéndez Peláez gave full credit to the effect of Jesuit theater on Spanish literature. He thoroughly described the context of the Spanish rinacimiento as well as the educational enterprises of the Jesuits in Spain and the harsh moral critique of some Fathers vis-à-vis theater performances in general.73 Like his international predecessors in the field, Menéndez Peláez also presented in his book a historical study and a critical edition of two Jesuit plays, the Tragedia de san Hermenegildo and the comical play (entretenimiento) Hércules vencedor de la ignorancia.74

During the 1950s, Claude-Henri Flèches explored the emergence of Jesuit school drama in Portugal in a couple of articles. They were collected and reworked in his monograph Neo-Latin Theatre in Portugal (1550–1745), but did not seem to find any immediate successors. The first modern edition and interpretation of a Jesuit play from Portugal, the tragedy Iosephus by Luís da Cruz (1543–1604), was published as late as 2004.75 Its editor, António Martins Melo, presents the larger contexts of production and performance at the college of Coimbra and analyzes form and content of da Cruz’s play in a more structuralist approach.76 Only an even more recent collection offers a selection of different philological and historical essays on Portuguese Jesuit school drama.77 Margarida Miranda, for example, argues in her thoroughly researched article that Miguel de Venegas’s (1529–after 1589) Latin school plays were important in the development of the concept of “religious tragedy” (“tragoedia sacra”) in early modern Spain and Europe in general.78

As for the Netherlands, scholars there always acknowledged the early modern Latin literary tradition, perhaps more so than their neighbors in Germany. The first comprehensive study on Dutch (or in modern terms: Belgian) Jesuit drama dates back to 1961.79 And of course, the theater of the Society of Jesus is given its due place in the seminal Companion to Neo-Latin Studies by the eminent Leuven philologist Jozef IJsewijn (1932–88).80 To this day, there has been vivid research on the most important playwrights of the Dutch Society of Jesus, like Jan David (1546–1613), the abovementioned Carel Malapert, and others.81

3.3: Reshaping Scholarly Standards: Szarota, Valentin, Rädle

By the 1970s and 1980s, research in the field of Jesuit drama was well-informed by current trends of Social History,82 while at the same time literary historians explored the larger backdrop of drama and performance: Early Modern Jesuit rhetoric and literary theory.83 But these developments and the spectacular increase of publications on the topic would not have been possible if it had not been for the groundbreaking work of three distinguished scholars at the end of the 1970s: a professor of German studies at the University of Warsaw, a colleague of hers at the Sorbonne and a German professor of medieval and early modern Latin at the University of Göttingen. Elida Maria Szarota’s (1904–94) remarkable influence on Jesuit studies was twofold: Firstly, her gargantuan edition of the collection of theater sheets or “programs” (periochae) still extant at the Bavarian State Library in Munich presented an excellent and consistent survey of two hundred years of drama production in Bavarian Jesuit colleges.84 She structured her material following principles of social and religious history (“Confrontations,” “Virtues and Sins,” “Human Life and Transcendence”), thus providing researchers with valuable heuristic tools. Secondly, she wrote a monograph “on the side” while collecting the sources for her edition, and in this book argued that Jesuit drama could also be interpreted as a medium of reflection on history.85 Without diminishing the religious meaning or educational purpose of the genre, Szarota simply pointed out how protagonists of Jesuit plays were, more often than not, in conflict with society or political rulers and sometimes even became “sacrifices of history.”86 In her monograph, she also followed the footsteps of Willi Harring and Ernest Boysse when she meticulously demonstrated how these political and historical implications of Jesuit theater plots were echoed by more canonized protestant playwrights of the baroque era (Gryphius, Caspar von Lohenstein, Weise).87 It cannot be emphasized enough what impact her research, with its threefold focus on material (periochae), socio-political contextualization, and interconfessional relations, had on the following generations in German studies (and beyond).

The same holds true for Jean-Marie Valentin (b.1938), who in 1978 presented nothing less then the first complete survey of Jesuit theater texts written in the German-speaking lands.88 The third volume of this encyclopedic work consists entirely of a chronological repertory which was soon to be supplemented by the author with a list of over seven thousand known Jesuit plays, additional notes and detailed information on performance dates and places as well as the archive or library where the respective documents were preserved.89 This repertory alone would have made Valentin’s work an indispensable basic tool for every scholar in the field. But there were also the first two volumes in 1978 with dozens of essays (only some of them previously published) on a number of subjects connected to Jesuit theater. Of course, his unique knowledge of the sources resulted in a subtle and often comparative analysis of plays by major Jesuit playwrights. Perhaps even more important was Valentin’s argument that Jesuit drama was not only a matter of texts and performances, but a matter of multisensory experience, of symbolic meanings and “auxiliary” imagery. With this argument, he broke new ground for research in the field, so that nowadays baroque and particularly Jesuit theater is naturally included into the paradigm of intermedia studies.90 It is also thanks to Valentin’s work that Jesuit drama is no longer perceived as purely a matter of school performance and educational benefit, but also as playing an important part in (religious) festivities in early modern cities and even at Catholic courts.91

The third scholar, Fidel Rädle (b.1935), distinguished himself as a modern editor and translator of Jesuit plays. His first monograph from 1976 combined critical presentations and translations of three Jesuit plays as well as of the Euripus by the Franciscan Livinus Brecht—probably the first play ever to appear on a Jesuit stage in 1555. In contrast to most of his predecessors, who concentrated on the seventeenth century, Rädle put an emphasis on the earliest phase of Jesuit theater, its relations to medieval traditions and popular religious customs (“Volksfrömmigkeit”).92 Especially Rädle’s annotated and bilingual edition of the œuvre of the previously unknown Dillingen professor Georg Bernardt (1595–1660) profits from the editor’s philological precision and profound knowledge of Jesuit culture.93 It shows the importance to not only preserve early modern (not only Jesuit) Latin literature, but also to make them accessible to modern readers, especially in times when fewer and fewer students or scholars can be expected to read and understand the original versions.

In one way or another, all of the following work in the field of Jesuit drama can be ascribed to one of the research types (or a combination of them) embodied in these three predecessors. The early Italian Jesuits Stefano Tucci and Bernardino Stefonio for example, both mentioned above, have found their competent translators and commentators in Mirella Saulini94 and Alessio Torino.95 In her earlier monograph on Tucci, Saulini moreover explores what she calls the “Tuccian model” by closely reviewing not only his Christus trilogy but also taking into account the technical and esthetic circumstances of the performance.96 In this case, she tends to adopt the method developed by Valentin. Modern editions of single Jesuit plays, sometimes with extensive commentaries, have also been published in Germany: Philologists have engaged with the Bavarian playwright Jakob Gretser (1562–1625) from the seventeenth and his fellow Jesuit Ignaz Weitenauer from the eighteenth century, for instance.97

As far as bibliographical survey is concerned, Valentin surely influenced Frank Pohle’s intensive and fruitful archival research. Pohle continued Bahlmann’s work on religious theater in the Lower Rhine Province, and only recently delivered a 1100-page micro-historical study based on the theatrical production of three local communities.98 Focusing on the individual plays’ production and reception, other scholars edited and translated textbooks of sumptuous Jesuit performances that accompanied festive occasions, for example the early Jesuit play written for the inauguration of the St.-Michael-Church in Munich (1597).99 And finally, in analogy to Szarota’s and Valentin’s exemplary works, extensive bibliographies of college plays in France (only theater sheets)100 and Hungary101 have been produced from the 1980s onwards.

With the importance of editions and bibliographies as foundations of further historical research already established, scholars became increasingly aware of the great relevance of rhetorical and poetic traditions and practices with a view to Jesuit tragedies and comedies. The large number of relevant publications comprises collections dedicated to the works of one Jesuit author in particular (e. g. recent collections on Bidermann and Nicolas Caussin)102 as well as reconstructions of theatrical practices at particular colleges over a longer period of time. As early as 1962, Ingrid Seidenfaden published her monograph on the Jesuit college of Constance between 1607 and 1710. She surveys over one hundred years of theatrical practice with particular stress on repertoire, use of music, the application of stage technology and “special effects.”103 And, in a more recent study, Giovanna Zanlonghi carefully analyzes the texts and (historical and esthetic) contexts of Jesuit drama in Milan during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.104 In Milan, the tragedy Hermenegildus by Emanuele Tesauro (1592–1675) was the most successful play for decades after its first performance. Its subject, the historical Saint Hermenegildus, proved equally successful, as he inspired early modern playwrights from Spain, Italy and Mexico. A new field of comparative research emerged not only on the texts themselves but also on the historical and local circumstances of their production and performance. Exactly this comparative perspective permeates a monograph published by Stefano Muneroni in 2017105—the latest example of a trend in comparative literary history: to analyze motifs and subjects in different but comparable texts, which mainly German scholars have applied on a series of Jesuit plays so far.106

Only recently, Hilaire Kallendorf gave a new and innovative interpretation of an idea already present in Szarota’s historiographical approach. Drawing mainly on Spanish Jesuit theater, she connects performance as a medium of communication with the audience and the technique of casuistry so popular in Jesuit moral theology of the period.107 What Szarota interpreted as “cases” on stage (i. e. casus—the fall of the tragic hero under particular historical circumstances), Kallendorf sees as “cases” in the sense of ethically relevant examples used, for instance, in a consultation of confessor and penitent. Her interesting study thus highlights a new facet of the educational purposes of Jesuit drama.108

3.4: “Theatrum mundi”: Jesuit School Drama across the World

Another new research area that emerged over the last decades concerns the aspect of Jesuit theater at the “frontier,” i. e. the presence, the forms and functions of Early Modern Jesuit drama at the outer margins of Catholic territory. The well-known notion of theatrum mundi109 that sometimes tends to degenerate into a vague Shakespearean truism proves quite apt if one imagines the possible risks and implications of writing and performing drama in the vicinity of territories shaped by very different religious denominations or even in the context of missionary activities overseas.110

A recently edited volume by Ignacio Arellano and José A. Rodríquez Garrido offers insights into Jesuit theater practices in the colonies of New Spain. From the point of view of social as well as literary history, the authors explore circumstances of performances in Cuzco and Lima and the circulation of manuscript plays between the colleges, reductions and even the motherland Spain. Again, a Jesuit playwright (in this case from the colonies: Matías de Bocanegra) is compared to a far better-known Spanish dramatist, Calderón de la Barca.111 Inspired by Valentin (among others), scholars also examined the close connection between theatrical performance, Christian festivities and missionary functions of Jesuit theater in New Spain.112

As far as the Portuguese colonies are concerned, Jesuit theater in Brazil was treated as early as the 1970s, e. g. in a small volume edited by Lothar Hessel and Georges Raeders. It connects the Jesuit theatrical practice to the need for “acculturation” in the colonies and gives a bibliography of the most productive playwright in early modern Brazil, its “apostle” José de Anchieta (1533–97).113 Accordingly, Anchieta’s dramatic œuvre is the main subject of Brazilian scholarship: A critical edition of his plays was published in his Obra Completa in 1977,114 and a lot of critics have analyzed them from philological, religious and post-colonial points of view.115 Scholarly research on Jesuit drama in Brazil has increased ever since and the “Jesuit past” is well documented in contemporary histories of Brazilian theater.116

In close analogy to these publications covering the Western outskirts of the Jesuit mission, the Far East has also sparked some research interests since the 1990s. On the one hand, Jesuit missionary and travel literature brought Asian subjects and exotic settings on European stages; on the other hand, theater, dance and similar activities (e. g. processions) were the main ingredients of Jesuit missionary practices in Asia, particularly in Japan during the early Edo-period. The Japanese reception of Jesuit drama and its influence on the history of Japanese Kabuki theater is a major aspect in the important German study on The Making of Kabuki: Transcultural Relations between Japan and Europe.117 The author, Thomas Leims, reviews a number of textual and visual sources from seventeenth-century Japan and concludes that the Kabuki odori in particular was a result of close cultural contact between Japanese popular culture and contemporary Christian drama imported by Jesuits.118 The presence of Japanese and Chinese subjects and motifs on Jesuit stages in seventeenth-century Europe has also caught the attention of scholars. One “Japanese” school drama, performed in the college of Zug (Switzerland) in the eighteenth-century, has even been edited with a philological commentary.119 More recent scholarship also addresses problems like orientalism and exoticism in Early Modern representations of Asian culture on stage as well as the curious coincidence of Chinese subjects in eighteenth-century Jesuit drama with the fondness for everything Asian displayed by early Enlightenment philosophy (Christian Wolf, among others).120

Scholarly interest in colonial and post-colonial complexities does, however, not necessarily exclude a renewal of Baroque splendor, especially if one of the most prestigious Saints in the history of the Societas Jesu is concerned. As a cooperation of the GRISA research institute and the Cátedra San Francisco Javier, a splendidly illustrated edition of Juan Calleja’s “gran comedia” San Francisco Javier, el Sol en Oriente was published in 2006.121 The introduction and the essays preceding the edited text specifically illustrate the history of plays about the “Apostle of Japan.” At the end of the volume, the text of the “comedia” is presented alongside a lot of colored illustrations and a comprehensive commentary at the margin.122 The presentation of little known Jesuit plays—one principle goal of literary historiography—in combination with a richly illustrated anthology of sources and texts about Saint Francis Xavier may serve purposes of hagiography as well as research interests.

Another “frontier” of Catholic and particularly Jesuit activities in early modern times was the far and northern East of Europe. In the outer regions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the fathers had to compete with the Protestant territories (and school systems) in Livonia, Estonia, and the Duchy of Prussia (“Lithuania minor”) as well as with the orthodox culture of the Muscovite empire. The fundamental studies and editions date back to the 1970s,123 but it was only since the end of Soviet cultural politics in Poland and the Baltics that a new generation could continue the work on baroque Jesuit theater in this region. Of particular relevance is the conference held at Cracow to honor the five-hundredth birthday of Ignatius of Loyola in 1991. It resulted in a comprehensive collection of essays, in which also the rather active group of Polish researchers concerned with Jesuit drama is well represented.124 The Lithuanian perspective is probably best represented by the Vilnius classical philologist Eugenija Ulčinaitė, who has published extensively on neo-Latin literature and culture including Jesuit drama. She provided the first edition of Jesuit plays and theater sheets preserved in the University library of Vilnius (a selection in Lithuanian)125 and wrote most of the important articles on the subject.126 In a recent essay, she also explored the political implications of certain plays performed at the college of Vilnius in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.127 Moreover, Jolanta Rzegocka recently highlighted the European connections of Jesuit theater in Poland-Lithuania by examining the increase of English (mainly recusant) subjects on Polish stages during the seventeenth centuries.128

The spreading of Jesuit drama around the globe inevitably influenced the texts themselves. Hence, an important issue raised by recent studies, especially about neo-Latin drama in Eastern Europe, concerns multilingualism. As Henriette Stößl has pointed out in her analysis of Jesuit plays performed in the border region of the Muscovite Rus’, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Ruthenia, a “mixed” use of Latin (for the main text of the play) and different vernacular passages (for the intermissions and comical parts, but occasionally even for entire plays) was not at all uncommon,129 and this in spite of the Ratio studiorum that had decreed decades ago that only Latin should be used on Jesuit stages!130 This aspect of the contact and competition of languages in and around the actual texts of Jesuit theater all over the world may develop into a new and promising area of research. A research, however, that would have to take a decidedly interdisciplinary perspective.

4. Modus procedendi:  The State of the Art, and Suggestions for Further Research

The amount of scholarship in the field of Jesuit drama studies has increased to such a degree as to determine a growing need for assessment, recapitulation and systematization. The historiography of Jesuit drama has itself become a subject of historiography. A number of collections and edited volumes “stabilize” the field and ensure the quality of research as well as the exchange among scholars in an area that is by now firmly established across a number of disciplines. A few remarks on the most important publications must suffice here: Guy Demerson’s widely acclaimed volume Les jésuites parmi les hommes (1987) included studies on Jesuit drama into a context of Jesuit spiritual and pastoral activities. From this point of view, theater texts, their subjects and their performances were seen as genuine parts of a particular Jesuit way of life and education that put the Fathers quite literally “among the people.”131 Maria Chiabò and Federico Doglio conceived of Jesuit drama as the most important basis of baroque theater in Europe. Hence their copious volume encompassed essays not only on Jesuit plays in Italy, but also in Spain, Portugal, France, Poland and the Holy Roman Empire.132 Again from the perspective of literary history and esthetics, Robert F. Glei and Robert Seidel included a substantial amount of essays on Jesuit drama into their collection about early modern neo-Latin theater.133 It shows that by the year 2000, German studies had recognized Jesuit literature as a proper successor to (mainly Protestant) humanist thought and poetry. In 2007, a symposium of the Cambridge Society for Neo-Latin Studies set out to explore the relationship of neo-Latin (humanist and baroque) drama with its classical and medieval predecessors. This endeavor resulted in a collection of case studies among which two particularly stressed the connection of Jesuit drama with its educational background.134 Almost at the same time, a collection edited by Jan Bloemendal and Howard B. Norland bore witness to the impressive dimensions of early modern drama studies (including Jesuit theater) today.135 The editors present remarkably detailed and profound essays on Jesuit drama in every major country of early modern Europe and thus surpass the aforementioned Cambridge publication by far. Bloemendal’s and Norland’s intention to sum up and epitomize the contemporary state of scholarship on the topic is as clear as the result is convincing and useful. But at the same time it betrays a tendency to “centralize” the discourse about Early Modern Jesuit drama from a Western European perspective. A perspective that prevails even though the colonies of the Americas are, of course, included.

But these “centralizing” tendencies do not necessarily mean that the energy of scholarly innovation is diminishing: Research interests quite similar to the ones in Poland and Lithuania have recently been intensified in other Eastern European countries, too. Particularly so in the former territories of the Habsburg Empire, like the Czech Republic,136 Slovakia,137 Slovenia,138 Croatia,139 Romania,140 and even Ukraine.141 And Werner Puchner’s monograph about school theater in early modern Greece (under Ottoman rule!) has shown that sources and traditions can be found where one would least expect it.142

These current and increasingly international research trends in Jesuit drama prove once again that, decades after the pivotal research was conducted in the center (in this case: France and Germany), undetected material and innovative ideas arise from the periphery. Be this as it may, the field of research on Jesuit drama from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries is well-established and open to scholars from a wide range of disciplines. This being said, there is still a lot to be done. Future research ought to encourage bibliographical and editorial activities, with a particular view to the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it should also further enlighten the social, political and historical (if not historiographical) contexts of individual plays as well as series of productions undertaken by certain colleges. Following in the path of Szarota, this promises to be particularly fruitful if the plots of the plays are historical and/or hagiographical in themselves, as is the case with the numerous plays on Francis Xavier, Francisco de Borja or political and religious conflicts, e. g. the Thomas Cantuariensis (Thomas Becket) by Georg Bernardt, the Gorcomienses (Poeple of Gorcum, 1610) by the Leuven Jesuit Nicolaus Vernulaeus (1583–1649) or the later tragedies by Anton Claus (1691–1754).143 Especially if Jesuit Saints like Francis Xavier, Anchieta or Ignatius himself are represented on stage, implications of self-fashioning and “cultural capital” arise, which further research could illuminate and connect to the exact historical context of the performances, e. g. whether they took place at elevation festivities or even during the celebrations of the Society’s centennial in 1640.144

From the point of view of literary history, aspects of allegorization and functionalization could be further explored, also in connection to the use of music,145 the chorus,146 or the (often but not always) comical interplays on the Jesuit stage. In this respect, the oratorio Philothea by the Jesuit Johannes Paullinus (1604–71) could serve as a starting point.147 The aspect of multilingualism has already been mentioned above in the context of Eastern European Jesuit drama. Nonetheless this could lead to further scrutiny of the relationship between Latin and vernacular drama within the Society of Jesus and beyond.148 Furthermore, Jesuit drama ought to be analyzed and interpreted as part of an overarching literary culture in Early Modern Europe and possibly in the colonies, as well. So, the explorations of cross-references between Jesuit and non-Jesuit literature should not only be concerned with the language but also with questions of style, genre and literary currents. Whether Shakespeare149 or Gryphius were influenced by the Jesuit stage, whether seventeenth-century Jesuit theater is, in turn, influenced by French classicism (as Nienke Tjoelker has shown): these exemplary observations should pave the way for a broader perspective on the interrelations of Latin and vernacular, religious and profane, Jesuit and non-Jesuit literature in the early modern world.

And finally: detailed interpretations of single plays, especially in comparison with other literary genres flourishing in the Society of Jesus, are scarce. However, such a comparative perspective (e. g. on hagiographical plays and epigrams; on Joseph on the Jesuit stage and in Jesuit epic etc.) may yield further insights into poetological and practical (performative) strategies of Jesuit poets working in different genres.


^ Back to text1. It is impossible in this context to give a comprehensive overview of the evolution of early modern Jesuit theater itself. Concise information provide: Kevon J. Wetmore jr., “Jesuit Theatre and Drama,” in Oxford Handbooks Online, doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935420.013.55; the chapters “Comedy” (Stefan Tilg) and “Tragedy” (Gary G. Grund), in Oxford Handbook of Neo-Latin, ed. Sarah Knight and Stefan Tilg (Oxford: University of Oxford Press, 2015), 87–118; Nigel Griffin, “Drama,” in A Guide to Neo-Latin Literature, ed. Victoria Moul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 221–34, doi:10.1017/9781139248914.014; and (focusing on the German territories) Wilhelm Kühlmann, “Neo-Latin Literature in Early Modern Germany,” in Camden House History of German Literature, vol. 4: Early Modern German Literature 1350–1700, ed. Max Reinhart (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2007), 281–329, here 302–4.

^ Back to text2. According to the repertory compiled by Jean-Marie Valentin (see below, note 88), vol. 2.

^ Back to text3. Cf. Jonathan Levy and Floraine Kay, “The Use of Drama in Jesuit Schools, 1551‒1773,” Youth Theatre Journal 10 (1996): 56–66.

^ Back to text4. About the administrative practices of the old Society of Jesus see Markus Friedrich, “Archives as Networks: The Geography of Record-Keeping in the Society of Jesus (1540–1773),” Archival Science: International Journal on Recorded Information 10 (2010): 285–99.

^ Back to text5. A view shared by Yasmin Haskell in her copious survey of recent scholarship on Jesuit poetry: “The Vineyard of Verse: The State of Scholarship on Latin Poetry of the Old Society of Jesus,” Journal of Jesuit Studies 1, no. 1 (2014): 26–46, doi:10.1163/22141332-00101003, here 28n6.

^ Back to text6. Readers interested in more detailed bibliographic data should turn to Nigel Griffin, Jesuit School Drama: A Checklist of Critical Literature (London: Grant & Cutler, 1976), Nigel Griffin, Jesuit School Drama: Supplement No. 1 (London: Grant & Cutler, 1986), László Polgár, Bibliography of the History of the Society of Jesus (Rome: IHSI, 1967), and the bibliographical parts of Valentin, Le théâtre des Jésuites (see below, note 89), vol. 2. And, of course, to the standard search tool for Jesuit studies, the current and growing online bibliography NSO, the New Sommervogel Online (

^ Back to text7. See Ladislaus Lukács, ed., Ratio atque Institutio Societatis Iesu (1586, 1591, 1599) (Rome: IHSI, 1986), here e. g. 205 (The earliest Ratio from 1586, § [6]: the impact of stage plays on the public), and 371 (Ratio from 1599, § 14: demand for pious and decent subjects for the plays to be performed).

^ Back to text8. One might disagree with my emphasis on anthologies here and point to the large compilations of Jesuit scholars from all disciplines put together by Alegambe, Ribadeneyra and later by Fathers de Backer and Sommervogel. True, they also included playwrights, of course, and duly mentioned plays written by otherwise renowned Jesuits. But the main scope of their work seems to be rather prosopography than “history” in the sense illustrated in my following arguments.

^ Back to text9. Selectae P[atrum] Soc[ietatis] Iesu tragoediae, 2 vols. (Antwerp: Cnobbarus, 1634).

^ Back to text10. Cellot is particularly prominent here. Three of his plays, among them his famous Sapor admonitus, cover more than half of the second volume. See Selectae tragoediae, 2:136–348.

^ Back to text11. Stefonio was renowned for working as Pater choragus at the Collegio Romano where he modernized the theater by supplanting biblical subjects with classical “pagan” ones that received a thorough interpretatio christiana. Cf. Marc Fumaroli, “Théâtre, humanisme et Contre-réforme à Rome (1597–1642): l’œuvre du P. Bernardino Steffonio et son influence,” Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Budé 33 (1974): 397–412. For more detailed information on the early Jesuit theater in France, the Catholic Netherlands, and Italy see the essays by Jean-Frédéric Chevalier and Jan Bloemendal in the recent collection edited by the latter and Howard B. Norland (see below, note 135).

^ Back to text12. Selectae tragoediae, 1:7–85. Note the title page informing the reader that the play had been given five times at the Collegio Romano, “and each time it was very well received” (7).

^ Back to text13. Selectae tragoediae, 2:108–35.

^ Back to text14. Selectae tragoediae, 1:327–66.

^ Back to text15. Selectae tragoediae, 1:287–326.

^ Back to text16. At the end of his argumentum Malapert explicitly refers to both sources: Selectae tragoediae, 1:290.

^ Back to text17. In this way, Jesuit literature differs significantly from its contemporary protestant counterpart. Apart from literary “heroes” like Shakespeare, Gryphius or Lohenstein, who preferred historical subjects, in protestant Germany and England as well as the reformed territories of Europe, biblical subjects prevailed even until the eighteenth century.

^ Back to text18. “Studiosae Iuventuti Typographus,” in Selectae tragoediae, 1:3–6, here 3–4.

^ Back to text19. Selectae tragoediae, 1:5–6: “profectò mihi dubium non est, quin si Tragœdos recentiores Annæus legeret, multa reperturus esset in Malapertio, multa in Stephonio, multa in aliis, quæ judicaret essse se digna. Ita est. Admiremur sanè veteres, multos verò è nostris non despiciamus, qui si aureis fortè temporibus vixissent, & ab antiquis Poëtis auditi cum volptate fuissent […].”

^ Back to text20. Jacob Bidermann, Ludi Theatrales Sacri, Sive Opera Comica Posthuma […] Olim Conscripta, Et cum plausu in theatrum producta. Nunc bono juventutis in publicum data, 2 vols. (Munich: Wagner 1666). Reprint, ed. Rolf Tarot (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1967). For a comprehensive study on Bidermann’s life and works see Thomas Best, Jakob Bidermann (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974).

^ Back to text21. Bidermann, Ludi theatrales, 1:(†2)r–[(††6)v], here (†2)r: “tot annos expectatas […] Comœdias […].” Although statements like this one tend to serve promotional ends rather than state facts, the number of extant copies of the Ludi theatrales in libraries all over Europe suggest that this edition was indeed a huge commercial success. Cf. Bidermann, Ludi Theatrales. Repr. ed. Tarot, 1:7* with note 6.

^ Back to text22. Bidermann, Ludi theatrales, 1:(†2)r: “[…] accurato ab authore calamo & propriæ manûs charactere […].” No such claim is made e. g. in the preface to the Antwerp anthology quoted above or in other contemporary editions of Jesuit plays I know of.

^ Back to text23. Cf. Bidermann, Ludi theatrales. Repr. ed. Tarot, 1:7*.

^ Back to text24. See e. g. Parables on a Roman Comic Stage: Samarites – Comoedia de Samaritano Evangelico (1539) by Petrus Papeus: Together with the Commentary of Alexius Vanegas of Toledo (1542), ed. and trans. Daniel Nodes (Leiden: Brill 2017).

^ Back to text25. Antonio Possevino, Bibliotheca selecta de Ratione studiorum. 2 vols. (Rome: Typographia Apostolica Vaticana, 1593). About Possevino’s life and works see the recent study by Luigi Balsamo, Antonio Possevino, bibliografo della Controriforma e diffusione della sua opera in area anglicana (Florence: Olschki, 2006).

^ Back to text26. This probably refers to Coriolano Martirano (1502–57), a Neapolitan bishop and playwright who also published, besides classicist plays like Electra, Medea or Hippolytus, a tragedy named Christus; cf. his Tragoediae. VIII: Medea Electra Hyppolitus Bacchae Phoenissae Cyclops Prometheus Christus. Comoediae II: Plutus Nubes. Odysseae lib. XII Batrachomyomachia. Argonautica (Naples: Giovanni Maria Simonetta, 1556). I am indebted to my always reliable colleague Alexander Winkler (Bonn) who drew my attention to Martirano.

^ Back to text27. Possevino, Bibliotheca, 2:299–302, here: 300 E, 301 A and E, 302 A and B.

^ Back to text28. About Pontanus cf. Fidel Rädle’s survey article “Jesuit Theatre in Germany, Austria and Switzerland“ in the volume edited by Jan Bloemendal and Howard B. Norland (see below, note 135): 185–292, esp. 266–68. Jacob Pontanus, Poeticarum institutionum libri tres: Eiusdem tyrocinium poeticum (Ingolstadt: David Sartorius, 1594). The third edition was published in 1600.

^ Back to text29. Jacob Masen, Palaestra Eloquentiae ligatae: Novam ac facilem tam concipiendi, quam scibendi quovis stylo poëtico methodum ac rationem complectitur […], 3 vols. (vols. 1 and 2, Cologne: Friessem, 1654; vol. 3, Cologne: Busaeus, 1657). About Masen, see Michael C. Halbig, The Jesuit Theatre of Jacob Masen: Three Plays in Translation with an Introduction (Bern: Lang, 1987), 1–9; further information on his Palaestra can be found in Rädle, “Jesuit Theatre,” 284, and Peter Orth, “Jacob Masens Übungsplatz für die gebundene Beredtsamkeit: Die Palaestra eloquentiae ligatae (1654–57),” Analecta Coloniensia 6 (2006): 171–96.

^ Back to text30. Masen, Palaestra, 1:†5r.

^ Back to text31. Pontanus deals with forms of drama in the second book of his poetics: Poeticae institutiones, 88–121 (II, chapters XII–XXII); the use of Aristotelian categories as conceptual frames becomes obvious in chapters XIV and XV: 94–103. The complete third book of Masen’s Palaestra is dedicated to drama.

^ Back to text32. Pontanus, Poeticae institutiones, 114 (II, chapter 19): “Cætera quoniam impeditiora, & magis etiam quam hactenus explicata ab ætatis huius vsu abhorrentia sunt, prudentes omittimus.”

^ Back to text33. Pontanus, Poeticae Institutiones, 2:526–63 (Immolatio Isaac) and 2:563–88 (Stratocles sive Bellum). The latter has recently been re-published with an English translation: Jacobus Pontanus, Soldier or Scholar: Stratocles or War, ed. with appendices and contributions by Thomas D. McCreight and Paul Richard Blum (Baltimore: Apprentice House, 2009).

^ Back to text34. Masen, Palaestra, 3:34–38 (I, chapter 7), here 34: “Si imitatio ad exercitationem imprimis necessaria, aut rerum ac conceptuum: aut verborum & sententiarum (ut & alibi monui) esse poterit. Res hoc tempore veteribus usitatas negligimus, historiis Christianorum omnem abundè nobis copiam ad poesin suggerentibus. […] Verborum sententiarumque lumina in Tragœdia Seneca omnibus praefert, cui ex recentioribus addere ante alios licebit Grotii Christum patientem, P. Libeni Iosephum, Malaperti Sisaram, Stephonii Crispum culta omninò dramata […].”

^ Back to text35. Masen, Palaestra, 3:35 (I,7).

^ Back to text36. Masen adds one exemplary play to this first part of the third book: Palaestra, 3:51–116 (Josaphatus Comico-Tragoedia); three comedies close the second part: 3:209–334 (Ollaria, Rusticus Imperans, Bacchi Schola Comoedia Fabulosa), followed by a tragedy: 3:335–87 (Mauritius Orientis Imperator), a Tragico-Comoedia: 3:388–442 (Androphilus; the last three plays are translated in Halbig, The Jesuit Theatre), and a Comico-Tragoedia; 3:443–99 (Telespius). So every sub-genre in Masen’s theory of drama has its exemplary text. See also George C. Schoolfield, “Jakob Masen’s Ollaria: Comments, suggestions and resumé,” in Studies in the German Drama: A Festschrift in Honor of Walter Silz, ed. Donald H. Crosby and George C. Schoolfield (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1974), 31–70, and the recent study on the Rusticus imperans and the Palaestra by Gesine Manuwald: “Jacob Masen’s Rusticus Imperans and Ancient Theatre,” in Ancient Comedy and Reception. Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Henderson, ed. S. Douglas Olson (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014), 580–605.

^ Back to text37. Stefan Tilg, “Theater,” in Tyrolis Latina: Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur in Tirol, ed. Martin Korenjak, 2 vols. (Vienna: Böhlau, 2012), 1:267–81 and 436–64; 2:660–700.

^ Back to text38. Nienke Tjoelker, Andreas Friz’ Letter on Tragedies (ca. 1741–1744): An Eighteenth-Century Jesuit Contribution to Theatre Poetics. Critical Edition and Introduction (Leiden: Brill, 2015).

^ Back to text39. Cf. Tjoelker, Andreas Friz, 19–22.

^ Back to text40. Tjoelker, Andreas Friz, 63–6 (Neumayr) and 66–70 (Weitenauer).

^ Back to text41. Alexander Baumgartner, Geschichte der Weltliteratur. Vol. VI: Die lateinische und griechische Literatur der christlichen Völker (Freiburg: Herder, 1900), 623–37 (book 4, chapter 5). Tellingly, this chapter is shorter than the following one (637–56) in which Baumgartner treats only two poets: the “Jesuit Horaces” Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski and Jacob Balde.

^ Back to text42. Ernest Boysse, Le Théâtre des jésuites (Paris: Vaton, 1880; repr. Genève: Droz 1970).

^ Back to text43. “Répertoire du théâtre du Collège Louis-le-Grand,” in Boysse, Le Théâtre, 113–334.

^ Back to text44. Karl v. Reinhardstöttner, “Zur Geschichte des Jesuitendramas in München,” Jahrbuch für Münchner Geschichte 3 (1889): 53–176.

^ Back to text45. In France, a comprehensive study on the college of La Flèche also analyzes the theatrical activities there: Camille de Rochemonteix, Un Collège de jésuites au XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles: Le Collège Henri IV de la Flèche (Le Mans: Leguicheux, 1889), here 219–50. An immediate successor to Reinhardstöttner was Paul Bahlmann, Jesuiten-Dramen der niederrheinischen Ordensprovinz (Leipzig: Harrassowitz, 1896; repr. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1968). The book offers a thoroughly researched bibliography of 209 (!) Jesuit plays performed in the colleges of the Lower Rhine Province. Bahlmann also reprints theater sheets and quotes short poems that served as abstracts to inform the audience about the moral implications of the play at hand.

^ Back to text46. Jakob Zeidler, Studien und Beiträge zur Geschichte der Jesuitenkomödie und des Klosterdramas (Hamburg: Voß, 1891), here 1–33 (introduction; the chapter on “foundations and “Weltanschauung” of the religious drama”) and 34–119 (appendix).

^ Back to text47. Zeidler, Studien, 117–19.

^ Back to text48. Willi Harring: Andreas Gryphius und das Drama der Jesuiten: Kapitel I. (Halle a. S.: Karras, 1907). Note that the almost parallel French study on “Gryphius and the German theater” does not mention any influence from Jesuit sources at all: Louis G. Wysocki, Andreas Gryphius et la tragédie Allemande au XVIIe siècle (Paris: Émile Bouillon, 1893).

^ Back to text49. Bernhard Duhr, Geschichte der Jesuiten in den Ländern deutscher Zunge, 4 vols. (vols. 1 and 2: Freiburg: Herder, 1907–13; vols. 3 and 4: Munich: Manz, 1921–28), here 2/1:657–703 and 3:459–501.

^ Back to text50. L.-V. Gofflot, Le Théâtre au Collège du Moyen Âge à nos jours. Avec bibliographie et appendices; Préface par Jules Claretie (Paris: Champion, 1907).

^ Back to text51. Gofflot, Le Théâtre, 166–204.

^ Back to text52. Cf. Marcel Lepper, “Typologie, Stilpsychologie, Kunstwollen: Zur Erfindung des “Barock” (1900–1933),” Arcadia 41 (2006): 14–28.

^ Back to text53. Das Ordensdrama, ed. Willi Flemming (Leipzig: Reclam, 1930). It was the second volume in the series “Deutsche Literatur in Entwicklungsreihen, Reihe Barock.” Contrary to what the title “religious” suggests, Flemming deals almost exclusively with Jesuit playwrights. Only exception: the Benedictine poet Simon Rettenpacher (1634–1706).

^ Back to text54. Johannes Müller, Das Jesuitendrama in den Ländern deutscher Zunge vom Anfang (1555) bis zum Hochbarock (1665), 2 vols. (Augsburg: Filser, 1930).

^ Back to text55. Flemming, Ordensdrama, 47–369.

^ Back to text56. Willi Flemming, Geschichte des Jesuitentheaters in den Landen deutscher Zunge (Berlin: Gesellschaft für Theatergeschichte, 1923).

^ Back to text57. Müller, Jesuitendrama, 1:6–40.

^ Back to text58. Müller, Jesuitendrama, 1:41–96.

^ Back to text59. However, when the book was finally published after McCabe’s death, its topics were rather outdated: William H. McCabe, An Introduction to the Jesuit Theatre, ed. Louis J. Oldani (St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1983). Cf. e. g. Suzanne Gossett’s review in Renaissance Quarterly 38 (1985): 160–64; doi:10.2307/2861352. Concerning Simons see also the recent article by Alison Shell, “Autodidacticism in English Jesuit Drama: The Writings and Career of Joseph Simons,” Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England 13 (2001): 34–56.

^ Back to text60. For the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, there were Stanisław Windakiewicz, Teatr kollegjów jezuickich w dawnej Polsce (Kraków: Nakładem Polskiej Akad. Umiejętności, 1922) and Adolf Stender-Petersen, Tragoediae sacrae: Materialien und Beiträge zur Geschichte der Polnisch-Lateinischen Jesuitendramatik der Frühzeit (Tartu: Mattiesen, 1931); for Hungary, József Takács, A jezsuita iskoladrama (1581–1773), vol. 2 (Budapest: Pray Rendtörténeti Munkaközösség, 1937). About Hungarian research on the topic in general see the Companion to the History of the Neo-Latin Studies in Hungary, ed. István Bártok (Budapest: Universitas, 2005).

^ Back to text61. Henry Schnitzler, “The Jesuit Contribution to Theatre,” Educational Theatre Journal 4 (1952): 283–292.

^ Back to text62. Schnitzler, “Jesuit Contribution,” 283–89.

^ Back to text63. Schnitzler, “Jesuit Contribution,” 290–1.

^ Back to text64. Kurt Adel, Das Jesuitendrama in Österreich (Wien: Bergland, 1957), here 32–98: the manuscript plays; quotation on 98 (“das Ineinander von Sein und Bedeuten”). Cf. also a short synopsis of historical events, theater performances and the circumstances at the Collegium Academicum in Vienna: Franz Hadamowsky, Das Theater in den Schulen der Societas Jesu in Wien (1555–1761): Daten, Dramen, Darsteller. Eine Auswahl aus den Quellen der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Köln/Weimar/Wien: Böhlau, 1992).

^ Back to text65. Franz Günter Sieveke, “Johann Baptist Adolph. Studien zum spätbarocken Wiener Jesuitendrama” (PhD diss., University of Cologne, 1965). (The transcribed and analyzed plays are: Alvilda in hoste sponsum agnoscens, Eucharistia amoris inter Deum et hominem and Philemon et Apollonius Martyres).

^ Back to text66. Harald Burger, Jakob Bidermanns “Belisarius”: Edition und Versuch einer Deutung (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1966).

^ Back to text67. Jacob Bidermann, Philemon Martyr: Lat. und Deutsch, ed. Max Wehrli (Köln: Hegner, 1960); Tarot edited the Cendoxus three times during the 1960s, once in the standard series for school and university textbooks: Jakob Bidermann: Cenodoxus. Deutsche Übersetzung von Joachim Meichel (1635), ed. Rolf Tarot (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1965). See also Bidermann: Ludi theatrales, repr. ed. Tarot.

^ Back to text68. Jacob Bidermann, Cenodoxus, ed. D. G. Dyer (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1975).

^ Back to text69. Two Jesuit Ahab Dramas. Miguel Venegas: Tragoedia cui nomen inditum Achabus and Anonymus: Tragaedia Jezabelis, ed. Nigel Griffin (Exeter: University of Exeter, 1976).

^ Back to text70. His earlier essays and bibliographical publications were collected and expanded in the monograph El teatro universitario y humanístico en España: Estudios sobre el origen de nuestro arte dramático; Con documentos, textos inéditos, y un catálogo de antiguas comedias escolares (Toledo: Gómez-Menor, 1945).

^ Back to text71. La vida de san Eustaquio: Comedia jesuítica del Siglo de Oro, ed. Agustín de la Granja (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1982). Fourteen years earlier, an essay by Lucette Roux had also dealt with Jesuit plays in Spain: Lucette E. Roux, “Cent ans d’expérience théâtrale dans les collèges de la Compagnie de Jésus en Espagne,” in Dramaturgie et société: Rapports entre l’œuvre théâtrale, son interprétation et son public au XVIe et XVIIe siècles, ed. Jean Jacquot and Élie Konigson (Paris: Édition de CNRS, 1968), 479–523.

^ Back to text72. Cf. e. g. José María Díez Borque, El teatro en el siglo XVII (Madrid: Taurus, 1988), the ninth volume of the official series “Historia crítica de la literatura Hispánica.”

^ Back to text73. Jesús Menéndez Peláez, Los jesuitas y el teatro en el Siglo de Oro (Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo, 1995). Shortly before, Molina Sánchez published an essay on Jesuit theater in Andalusia: Manuel Molina Sánchez, “El teatro de los Jesuitos en la provincia de Andalucía: Nuevos datos para su estudio,” in Humanismo y pervivencia del mundo clásico, 2 vols., ed. José M. a Maestre Maestre and Joaquín Pascual Barea (Cádiz: Instituto de estudios turolenses, 1993), 2:643–54.

^ Back to text74. Menéndez Peláez, Los jesuitas, 125–431. Cf. also his later studies and essays in Jesuit theatre in the Siglo de Oro as listed e. g. in Archivum: Revista de la Facultad de Filología de la Universidad de Oviedo 54/55 (2004/2005), 559–61.

^ Back to text75. António Maria Martins Melo, Teatro jesuítico em Portugal no século XVI: A tragicomédia Iosephus do P. Luís da Cruz, S.J. (Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian: 2004).

^ Back to text76. For the analysis see Melo, Teatro, 178–449.

^ Back to text77. Teatro neolatino em Portugal no contexto da Europa: 450 anos de Diogo de Teive, ed. Sebastião Tavares de Pinho (Coimbra: Universidade de Coimbra, 2006). See in particular the essays by Dietrich Briesemeister, Martins Melo, and Manuel José de Sousa Barbosa.

^ Back to text78. Maria Margarida Lopes de Miranda, “Miguel de Venegas, S.I. e o princípio de um ciclo trágico na Europa,” in Tavares de Pinho, ed.: Teatro neolatino, 287–309. The article seems to be based in Miranda’s unpublished PhD dissertation (Coimbra, 2002). Venegas’s tragedy Achab had already been edited and translated by Nigel Griffin (see above, note 69).

^ Back to text79. Leonardus van den Boogerd, Het jezuïetendrama in de Nederlanden (Groningen: Wolters, 1961).

^ Back to text80. Its first edition dates back to 1977: Jozef IJsewijn, Companion to Neo-Latin Studies (Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Company, 1977). An entirely rewritten, now authoritative edition was published posthumously in two volumes: Jozef IJsewijn, Companion to Neo-Latin Studies. Part I: History and Diffusion of Neo-Latin Literature. Second entirely rewritten edition. Leuven/Louvain, Leuven University Press/Peeters, 1990); Jozef IJsewijn and Dirk Sacé, Companion to Neo-Latin Studies. Part II: Literary, Linguistic, Philological and Editorial questions (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1998), here 1:108f., 154, 186f., 201, 217; 2:141–43, 150.

^ Back to text81. Cf. the recent and most comprehensive overview by Jan Bloemendal, “Neo-Latin Drama in the Low Countries,” in Bloemendal and Norland, eds., Neo-Latin Drama and Theatre (see below, note 135), 293–364, here 349–57.

^ Back to text82. In Germany, Bidermann was yet again the most cherished object of social historical analysis: cf. Günter Hess, “Spectator – Lector – Actor: Zum Publikum von Jacob Bidermanns Cenodoxus; Mit Materialien zum literarischen und sozialgeschichtlichen Kontext der Handschriften von Ursula Hess,” IASL (Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur) 1 (1976): 30–106. Cf. also G. Richard Dimler, “A Geographic and Genetic Survey of Jesuit Drama in German–Speaking Territories From 1555–1602,” Archivum historicum Societatis Iesu 43, no. 1 (1974): 133–46.

^ Back to text83. The groundbreaking monographs in this respect being Marc Fumaroli, L'Âge de l'éloquence: Rhétorique et “res literaria” de la Renaissance au seuil de l’époque classique (Geneva: Droz, 1980) and Barbara Bauer, Jesuitische Ars Rhetorica im Zeitalter der Glaubenskämpfe (Frankfurt a. M.: Lang, 1986).

^ Back to text84. Das Jesuitendrama im deutschen Sprachgebiet: Eine Periochen-Edition, ed. Elida Maria Szarota. 4 parts in 7 vols. (Munich: Fink, 1979–87).

^ Back to text85. Elida Maria Szarota, Geschichte, Politik und Gesellschaft im Drama des 17. Jahrhunderts (Bern: Francke, 1976).

^ Back to text86. Szarota, Geschichte, 11–62.

^ Back to text87. Szarota, Geschichte, 63–181.

^ Back to text88. Jean-Marie Valentin, Le théâtre des jésuites dans les pays de la langue allemande (1554–1680): Salut des âmes et ordre des cité. 3 vols. (Bern: Lang, 1978).

^ Back to text89. This new repertory was published only a few years later, one volume listing Jesuit plays up until 1773, and a second one giving all kinds of pertinent secondary sources and a complete account of the current research at that time: Le théâtre des jésuites dans les pays de langue allemande: Répertoire chronologique des pièces représentées et des documents conservés (1555–1773), 2 vols. (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1983).

^ Back to text90. To name only one of the most prestigious enterprises: theater and performance are included in the interdisciplinary research volumes published by John W. O’Malley, Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Steven J. Harris, and T. Frank Kennedy, eds., The Jesuits, vol. 2: Culture, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540‒1773 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007); concerning drama, see here especially the essays by Giovanna Zanlonghi and Michael Zampelli.

^ Back to text91. The essays from the 1978 publication have been reworked and (with a few abridgments) newly published as: Jean-Marie Valentin, Les jésuites et le théâtre (1554–1680): Contribution à l’histoire culturelle du monde catholique dans le Saint-Empire romain germanique (Paris: Desjonquères, 2001). For the aspects mentioned above see here: 19–84 (intermediality), 235–99 and 489–533 (festivities), and 601–87 (Avancini and the Vienna Court).

^ Back to text92. Lateinische Ordensdramen des XVI. Jahrhunderts mit deutscher Übersetzung [Euripus; Stratocles sive Bellum; Dialogus de Udone; Theophilus], ed. Fidel Rädle (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1979).

^ Back to text93. Georg Bernardt S.J., Dramen, ed. Fidel Rädle, 4 vols. (Amsterdam: APA – University of Holland Press, 1984–2008).

^ Back to text94. Stephanus Tuccius S.J., Christus nascens. Christus patiens. Christus Iudex: Tragoediae, ed. Mirella Saulini (Rome: IHSI, 2011).

^ Back to text95. Bernardinus Stephonius S.J., Crispus. Tragoedia, ed. Alessio Torino (Roma: Bardi, 2007 [i. e. 2008]); Mirella Saulini, Bernardino Stefonio S.J.: Un gesuita sabino nella storia del teatro (Roma: Espera, 2014).

^ Back to text96. Mirella Saulini, Il teatro di un gesuita siciliano. Stefano Tucci S.J. (Rome: Bulzoni, 2002). In an appendix, the author also presents the argumentum of Christus Iudex. About the Jesuit school drama in Italy in general, see Louis J. Oldani and Victor R. Yanitelli, “Jesuit Theater in Italy – Its Entrances and Exits,” Italica 76, no. 1 (1999): 18–32.

^ Back to text97. Augustinus Conversus: Ein Drama von Jakob Gretser. Einleitung, Text, Übersetzung und Kommentar, ed. Dorothea Weber (Vienna: Österreichischer Verlag d. Wissenschaften, 2000). Stefanie Paul, Ignaz Weitenauers neulateinische Tragödie Annibal moriens. Ausgabe, Übersetzung und Interpretation (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015).

^ Back to text98. Frank Pohle, Glaube und Beredsamkeit: Katholisches Schultheater in Jülich-Berg, Ravenstein und Aachen (1601–1817) (Münster: Rhema, 2010). Pohle treats not only Jesuit but also Franciscan, Capucine, and Benedictine theater. See in particular his abundant bibliography of local Jesuit plays which only for a small part are still preserved in local archives (991–1087).

^ Back to text99. Triumphus Divi Michaels Archangeli Bavarici: Triumph des Heiligen Michael, Patron Bayerns (München 1597), ed. Barbara Bauer and Jürgen Leonhardt (Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2000).

^ Back to text100. Louis Desgraves, Répertoire des programmes des pièces de théâtre jouées dans les collèges de France (1601–1700) (Geneva: Droz, 1986).

^ Back to text101. Géza Staud, A magyarországi jezsuita iskolai színjátékok forrásai 1561–1773, 4 vols. (Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Könyvtárának Kiadása, 1984–94).

^ Back to text102. Jakob Bidermann und sein “Cenodoxus”: Der bedeutendste Dramatiker aus dem Jesuitenorden und sein erfolgreichstes Stück, ed. Helmut Gier (Wiesbaden: Schnell & Steiner, 2005). Nicolas Caussin: rhétorique et spiritualité à l’époque de Louis XIII., ed. Sophie Conte (Berlin: LIT, 2007); see here in particular the essays by Jean-Frédéric Chevalier: “Nicolas Caussin héritier de Sénèque et de Boèce dans Theodoricus” (97–102) and Emmanuelle Hénin: “Écriture et vision tragique dans la Cour Sainte” (103–20).

^ Back to text103. Ingrid Seidenfaden, Das Jesuitentheater in Konstanz. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Jesuitentheaters in Deutschland (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1963).

^ Back to text104. Giovanna Zanlonghi, Teatri di formazione: Actio, parola e immagine nella scena gesuitica del Sei-Settecento a Milano (Milan: Vita e Pensiero, 2002).

^ Back to text105. Stefano Muneroni, Hermenegildo and the Jesuits. Staging Sainthood in the Early Modern Period (Cham: Palgrave McMillan/Springer International, 2017), doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-55089-3.

^ Back to text106. Cf. the similar studies, probably unknown to Muneroni, by Ruprecht Wimmer, Jesuitentheater. Didaktik und Fest: das Exemplum des ägyptischen Joseph auf den deutschen Bühnen der Gesellschaft Jesu (Frankfurt a. M.: Klostermann, 1986) (on Joseph in Egypt as a subject in Jesuit drama) and Stefan Tilg, Die Hl. Katharina von Alexandria auf der Jesuitenbühne. Drei Innsbrucker Dramen aus den Jahren 1576, 1577 und 1606 (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2005) (on three plays about Saint Catherine of Alexandria).

^ Back to text107. Hilaire Kallenbach, The Conscience on Stage: The comedia as Casuistry in Early Modern Spain (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007).

^ Back to text108. Cf. in particular the chapter “Casuistry and Theory,” in Kallendorf, Conscience, 180–241.

^ Back to text109. Cf. Lynda G. Christian, Theatrum Mundi. The History of an Idea (New York.: Garland, 1987).

^ Back to text110. For an overview of Jesuit activities in Latin America see The Jesuits in Latin America, 1549–2000: 450 Years of Inculturation, Defense of Human Rights, and Prophetic Witness, ed. Jeffrey L. Klaiber (St. Louis, MO: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009), for the early modern period esp. 25–104.

^ Back to text111. El teatro en la Hispanoamérica colonial, ed. Ignacio Arellano and José Antonio Rodríguez Garrido (Madrid: Iberoamericana / Frankfurt a. M.: Verfuert, 2008), here in particular the essays by Pedro Guibovich Pérez and by María Palmar Verea.

^ Back to text112. Cf. e. g. Dalia Hernández-Reyes, “El teatro de la Compañía de Jésus en las festividades religiosas de la Nueva España,” Bulletin of the Comediantes 58, no. 1 (2006): 89–102.

^ Back to text113. Lothar Hessel / Georges Raeders, O teatro jesuítico no Brasil (Porto Alegre: Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 1972). For the bibliography see 31–91.

^ Back to text114. José de Anchieta, Obras completas, vol. 3: Teatro de Anchieta: Originais acompanhados de tradução versificada, introdução e notas, ed. Armando Cardoso (São Paulo: Ed. Loyola, 1977).

^ Back to text115. Paulo Romualdo Hernandes, O teatro de José de Anchieta: Arte e pedagogia no Brasil Colônia (Campinas, São Paulo: Ed. Alíneas, 2008). For a distinctly post-colonial perspective cf. e. g. Manuel Simões, “Colonizar através do teatro: José de Anchieta e o modelo medieval no Brasil do séc. XVI,” Quaderni di letterature iberiche e iberoamericane 4 (1986): 51–63.

^ Back to text116. Cf. e. g. História do teatro brasileiro, ed. João Roberto Faria and J. Guinsburg. Vol 1: Das origens ao teatro profissional da primeira metade do século XX (São Paulo: Editora Perspectiva / SESC, 2012), 21–37.

^ Back to text117. Thomas F. Leims, Die Entstehung des Kabuki: Transkulturation Europa–Japan im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert (Leiden: Brill, 1990). Cf. also Thomas F. Leims, “Japan and Christian Mystery Plays: Christian Kōwakami Reconsidered,” in Contemporary European Writing on Japan, ed. Ian Nish (Woodchurch: Paul Norbury Publications, 1988), 206–10.

^ Back to text118. Leims, Entstehung, 259–326.

^ Back to text119. Dreyer japanischen Brüder gegen ihrer Erärmten Mutter sinnreiche Liebes-Erfindung: Ein “japanisches” Jesuitendrama auf der Zuger Schulbühne, ed. Ingrid Schuster (Bern: Lang, 1992).

^ Back to text120. I merely refer to the most recent collection of essays, a representative selection of methods and topics: Mission und Theater, Japan und China auf den Bühnen der Gesellschaft Jesu, ed. Adrian Hsia, Ruprecht Wimmer, and Michael Kober (Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2005), here in particular Wimmer’s survey of Asian subjects in Jesuit drama: 17–58. Cf. also the short overview by Dorothea Weber, Japanische Märtyrer auf der Bühne des Jesuitentheaters (Vienna: Wiener Katholische Akademie, 1997); and cf. Goran Proot and Johan Verberckmoes, “Japonica in the Jesuit drama of the southern Netherlands,” Bulletin of Portuguese/Japanese Studies 5 (2003): 27–47.

^ Back to text121. San Francisco Javier. El Sol en Oriente: Comedia jesuítica del P. Diego Calleja, ed. Ignacio Arellano (Madrid: Iberoamericana / Frankfurt a.M.: Vervuert, 2006).

^ Back to text122. San Francisco Javier, 71–200. About other Spanish comedies on St. Francisco Javier see Marga Piñero, “Elementos escénicos en las comedias de San Francisco Javier,” in Misión y aventura: San Francisco Javier, sol en Oriente, ed. Ignacio Arellano and Delio Mendonça (Madrid: Iberoamericana / Frankfurt a. M.: Vervuert, 2008), 253–65.

^ Back to text123. The most important are: Drama comicum Odostratocles, ed. Lidia Winniczuk (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1969),  Jan Okoń, Dramat i teatr szkolny: Sceny jezuickie XVII wieku (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1970), Tragediae Mauritius & Belisarius: E codice manu scripto Uppsaliensi R 380, ed. Zdzisław Piszczek (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1971), and the studies by Irena Kadulska on Jesuit drama in the eighteenth century; one deals with the connection between the late baroque Jesuit drama and the “New Enlightenment” in Poland: Irena Kadulska, Ze studiów nad dramatem jezuickim wczesnego oświecenia (1746–1765) (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1974). Another is dedicated to Jesuit comedy: Irena Kadulska, Komedia w polskim teatrze jezuickim XVIII wieku (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1993).

^ Back to text124. Jezuici a kultura polska: Materiały sympozjum z okazji Jubileuszu 500-lecia urodzin Ignacego Loyoli (1491–1991) i 450-lecia powstania Towarzystwa Jezusowego (1540–1990), ed. Ludwik Grzebień and Stanisław Obirek (Kraków: Wydawnictwo WAM et al., 1993). See here the essays by Jerzy Axer, Irena Kadulska, Mirosław Korolko, Katarzyna Kotowska, and, of course, Jan Okoń.

^ Back to text125. Lietuvos jėzuitų teatras: XVI–XVIII amžiaus dramų rinktinė, ed. Eugenija Ulčinaitė (Vilnius: Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas, 2008). Cf. also her short English survey of Baroque Literature in Lithuania (Vilnius: Baltos Lankos, 1996). One of the most recent issues of the Journal of Jesuit Studies exclusively deals with Jesuit culture in the Rzeczpospolita; see in particular the introduction by Piotr Urbański and Krzysztof Fordoński: “Jesuit Culture in Poland and Lithuania, 1564–1773,” JJS 5, no. 3 (2018): 341–51, doi:10.1163/22141332-00503001.

^ Back to text126. Two references shall suffice: Eugenija Ulčinaitė, “Z działalności jezuitów na polu krzewienia języka i kultury litewskiej w XVI–XVIII wieku,” in Wkład jezuitów do nauki i kultury w Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów i pod zaborami, ed. Irena Stasiewicz-Jasiukowa (Kraków: Wydawnictwo WAM, 2004), 449–64. Also pertinent to Jesuit drama is the essay by Małgorzata Puchowska in the same collection.

^ Back to text127. Eugenija Ulčinaitė, “Mokyklinis Jėzuitų teatras: olitinio Lietuvos didžiosios kunigaikštystės teatro dalis,“ Literatūra 46, no. 3 (2004): 75–85.

^ Back to text128. Jolanta Rzegocka, “English Recusants in the Jesuit Theatre of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth,” in Publishing Subversive Texts in Elizabethan England and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, ed. Teresa Bela, Clarinda Calma, and Jolanta Rzegocka (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 41–55.

^ Back to text129. Henriette Stößl, Die geistliche Kommunion der Heiligen Boris und Gleb. Exemplarische Rhetorik in einem polnischen Barockdrama (Cologne: Böhlau, 2013), here in particular 77 and 214–43.

^ Back to text130. Ratio studiorum, ed. Lukács, 371 (§ 14).

^ Back to text131. Les Jésuites parmi les hommes aux seizième et XVIIe siècles, ed. Guy Demerson (Clermont-Ferrand: Faculté des Lettres et Sciences Humaines de l'Université de Clermont-Ferrand II, 1987), here esp. 373–541.

^ Back to text132. I gesuiti e i primordi del teatro barocco in Europa, ed. Maria Chiabó and Federico Doglio (Rome: Centro Studi sul Teatro Medioevale e Rinascimentale, 1995).

^ Back to text133. Das lateinische Drama der Frühen Neuzeit: Exemplarische Einsichten in Praxis und Theorie, ed. Reinhold F. Glei and Robert Seidel (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2008). See here in particular the essays by Tilg, Stroh, Rädle, and Eickmeyer.

^ Back to text134. The Early Modern Cultures of Neo-Latin Drama, ed. Philip Ford and Andrew Taylor (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2013). See here the essays by Joaquin Pascal Barea and Judi Loach.

^ Back to text135. Neo-Latin Drama and Theatre in Early Modern Europe, ed. Jan Bloemendal and Howard B. Norland (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2013). See here the essays by Chevalier, Rädle, Bloemendal, and Pascual Barea. An advantage of this book is that for some territories (France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland) the tradition of Jesuit theater is treated in a separate chapter. This underlines the importance of the Jesuit contribution to the European history of drama.

^ Back to text136. Cf. Alena Bočková, “From Sanctulus to Sacer. Suggested Typology of Jesuit School Plays Featuring St. John of Nepomuk in the Bohemian Province,” Acta Universitats Carolinae: Philologica 2 / Graecolatina Pragensia 25 (2015): 113–33; Kateřina Bobková-Valentová and Magdaléna Jacková, “Saint Francis Xavier on Jesuit School stages of the Bohemian Province,” Acta Universitats Carolinae: Philologica 2 / Graecolatina Pragensia 25 (2015): 135–56; Magdaléna Jacková, “The End of School Year in Bohemia,” Acta Universitats Carolinae: Philologica 2 / Graecolatina Pragensia [26] (2016): 125–35.

^ Back to text137. Cf. Miroslav Varšo, “Jezuitiské divadlo v Spišskej kapitule. Divadelné drámy z polovice 17. storočia,“ Slovenské divadlo 62, no. 2 (2014): 188–202.

^ Back to text138. Cf. Nada Grošelj, “Two 17th-Century Jesuit Plays in Ljubljana Inspired by English Literature,” Acta neophilologica 37, no. 1 (2004): 61–71 (and the literature quoted there).

^ Back to text139. Cf. Neo-Latin Contexts in Croatia and Tyrol: Challenges, Prospects, Case Studies, ed. Neven Jovanović et al. (Vienna: Böhlau, 2018), see here in particular Simon Wirthensohn’s essay.

^ Back to text140. Cf. the recent monograph by Ioan-Aurel Pop, Biserică, societate şi cultură în Transilvania secolului al XVI-lea: Între acceptare şi excludere (Bucarest: Editura Academiei, 2012), here especially 94–108. Cf. also Paul Shore, Jesuits and the Politics of Religious Pluralism in Eighteenth Century Transylvania. Culture, Politics, and Religion 1693–1773 (Aldershot et al.: Ashgate, 2007); Shore acknowledges the importance of Jesuit drama for the context of his study: 133–46.

^ Back to text141. Cf. Paulina Lewin, “The Ukrainian School Theater in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: An Expression of the Baroque,” Harvard Ukrainian Studies 5, no. 1 (1981): 54–65.

^ Back to text142. Werner Puchner, Griechisches Schuldrama und religiöses Barocktheater im ägäischen Raum zur Zeit der Türkenherrschaft (1580–1750) (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1999); cf. his English extract: Werner Puchner, “Jesuit Theatre on the Islands of the Aegean Sea,” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 21 (2003): 207–22.

^ Back to text143. For the example of Claus see Simon Wirthensohn, “Geschichtsdrama auf der Jesuitenbühne des 18. Jahrhunderts: Anton Claus’ Comoedia ludis autumnalis datae,” Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 91 (2017): 109–27, doi:10.1007/s41245-017-0034-2.

^ Back to text144. Cf. Theo G. M. van Oorschot, “Die erste Jahrhundertfeier der Gesellschaft Jesu (1640) in Kölner Katechismusspielen,” in Theatrum Europaeum. Festschrift für Elida Maria Szarota, ed. Richard Brinkmann et al. (Munich: Fink, 1982), 127–51.

^ Back to text145. A little research, usually of the length of an essay, is already available; cf. e g. Ágnes Gupscó, “Musiktheater-Aufführungen an Jesuiten- und Piaristenschulen im Ungarn des 18. Jahrhunderts,” Studia musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 38, no. 3/4 (1997): 315–44.

^ Back to text146. A first step in this direction was taken by Volker Janning, Der Chor im neulateinischen Drama. Formen und Funktionen (Münster: Rhema, 2005), see here for the Jesuit theater 297–316.

^ Back to text147. Until now there is only an unpublished Master’s thesis on the subject: Wolfgang Strobel, “Philothea, ein Musikdrama des Jesuitenpaters Johannes Paullinus in der Fassung einer Regensburger Handschrift“ (Thesis, University of Regensburg, 1985).

^ Back to text148. Bidermann’s famous Cendoxus, for example, was translated into German as early as the seventeenth century, by Father Joachim Meichel (1590–1637). See also the recent reprint-edition of the school plays by Franz Callenbach (1663–1743), which are mostly German with Latin passages interspersed: Franz Callenbach, Acht Schulkomödien, ed. Reinhard Roth (Edingen-Neckarhausen: Edition Ralf Fetzer, 2010).

^ Back to text149. Among the long-term advocates of a “Jesuit influence” on Shakespeare I only refer to Andrea Campana, “A Jesuit Shakespeare?,” The Heythrop Journal 57 (2016): 770–87; also cf. her more detailed monograph Shakespeare and the Jesuits: ‘To Fight the Fight’ (Campbell, CA: Fast Pencil, 2012); an overview over the pertinent scholarship offers Theatre and Religion: Lancastrian Shakespeare, ed. Richard Dutton, Alison Gail Findlay, and Richard Wilson (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), see here in particular the essays by Peter Milward, Robert S. Miola, Sonja Fielitz, and Arthur F. Marotti.

Cite this page
Eickmeyer, Jost, “Between Religious Instruction and theatrum mundi: The Historiography of Jesuit Drama (Seventeenth to Twenty-First Centuries)”, in: Jesuit Historiography Online. Consulted online on 22 March 2019 <>
First published online: 2016

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