Cusanus Society UK & Ireland
First annual conference

Tuesday 20 to Wednesday 21 June 2023, 
University of St Andrews,
St Andrews, Scotland, UK

The Cusanus Society  UK & Ireland will be holding its first annual conference 20-21 June 2023 in St Andrews in conjunction that week with the annual meeting of the European Academy of Religion.


With thanks to St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews and the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh for their support of this conference. 

The call for proposals for this conference is now closed. For more information about taking part in this conference please contact Simon J. G. Burton [email protected] or William P. Hyland [email protected].

We are delighted that our two plenary speakers will be:

Professor John Millbank

Professor John Millbank
Emeritus Professor & Director of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy, University of Nottingham.

Dr Richard Oosterhoff

Dr Richard Oosterhoff
Senior Lecturer in History, University of Edinburgh.


The programme for the Cusanus Society annual conference is subject to change.

Cusanus Society UK & Ireland Sessions.

All Sessions take place in Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews.

20 June

Session 1 – Cusanus, Reform and Ecclesiology
Tuesday 9am to 10am

Opening Remarks & Welcome

Moderator: William P. Hyland. University of St Andrews.

Paper 1: Monika Eisenhauer. Independent Scholar.
Nicholas Cusanus’ Reformatio Generalis: Theology and Church Reform”.

Paper 2: Yelena Mazour-Matusevich. University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
“Nicholas of Cusa and Jean Gerson: A Meaningful Relationship”

Session 2
Tuesday 10.15am to 11.15am
Plenary Session

Jointly sponsored by the School of Divinity, University of St Andrews & The St Andrews Encyclopaedia of Theology Project.

Moderator: Judith Wolfe. University of St Andrews.

Speaker: John Milbank. University of Nottingham.

Plenary Paper: “Why the theological future is Cusan rather than Thomist”

For all the continuing value of Aquinas when rescued from
neo-scholastic confusions, the approach of Cusa more points the way forward for
us today. His fusion of Albertinism, Eriugena and Chartrian humanism in a
post-nominalist context allowed him to begin to develop a new discourse of
participated creativity that refused any distinction between theology and
philosophy, or any thinking of monotheism that is not also Trinitarian and
Christological, while remaining more strictly monotheistic and even monistic in
character (and thus open to other religious perspectives). It is in these terms
that he more drastically confronted the inherent paradoxes of the
Creator-Creation relationship than had been the case hitherto. In all such
aspects (which do not anticipate Kant so much as the various currents of
Romanticism) he opened out an ‘alternative modernity’ rather than a mere return
to the pre-modern that is now theoretically and culturally impossible, besides
being less than fully Christian. 

Session 3 – Cusanus, Truth and Metaphysics
Tuesday 12 noon to 1pm

Moderator: Simon J.G. Burton, University of Edinburgh.

Paper 1: Sean Hannan. MacEwan University.
“Truth and Timelessness in Augustine and Cusanus”

Paper 2: Steven Toussaint. University of Cambridge.
Ars Infinita: Nicholas of Cusa and the Metaphysics of Skill”.

Session 4 – Cusanus, Mathematics and Infinity
2.30pm to 3.30pm

Moderator: Andrew Torrance. University of St Andrews.

Paper 1: Jean-Marie Nicolle. Société Française Cusanus.
“Nicholas of Cusa and the Mathematical Sciences of his time”.

Paper 2: David Albertson. University of Southern California.
“Problems of the Infinite Line.”

Session 5
3.45pm to 4.45pm

Ecumenical Religious Service St Salvator’s Church. North Street.

The service will feature prayer and Scripture readings, as well as a sermon of Cusanus. There will also be period music provided by the choir of St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh, under the direction of Dr Michael Ferguson, University of St Andrews.

Cusanus Dinner. 6pm Parliament Hall.

21 June

Session 1 – Cusanus, Art and Creativity
Wednesday 9am to 10am

Moderator: Rebekah Lamb. University of St Andrews.

Paper 1: Il Kim. Auburn University.
Impressio of God: Cusanus’ Use of Icons, Diagrams and Paintings.”

Paper 2: Wade Bellesbach, University of St Andrews.
“Nicholas of Cusa and Martin Luther on Artistic Creativity.”

Session 2
Wednesday 10.15am to 11.15am
Plenary Session

Sponsored by the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh.

Moderator: Simon J.G. Burton, University of Edinburgh.

Speaker: Richard Oosterhoff. University of Edinburgh.

Plenary Paper: “The Coercion of Opposites: Renaissance Visions of Peace and Freedom.”

Our narratives of liberal modernity have made mathematical reasoning a focal point of both freedom and coercion. Classic accounts since at least Cassirer take Nicholas of Cusa and other thinkers as examples of how mathematics enables humans to surpass finite bounds in a bid for infinite perspectives; meanwhile, influential critics point out the pernicious consequences of mapping the world, of constraining it within a numbered grid to enable the extractive, surveilling state. This talk attempts to trace an emerging sense—and dismissal—of this tension in the wake of Cusanus. It will use Renaissance assumptions of how to do mathematics to find a way into the tensions between coercion and freedom, and from there examine the place of mathematical regimes in Renaissance political thought. 

Session 3 – Cusanus, Idealism and Infinity
Wednesday 12 noon to 1pm

Moderator: Oliver Crisp. University of St Andrews.

Paper 1: Nikolas Janowicz. University of Hawaii.
“Nicholas of Cusa and Alfred North Whitehead on Infinity.”

Paper 2: Valentina Zaffino. Pontifical Lateran University, Vatican State.
“Cusanus and Hegel on the Notion of Visio.”

Session 4 – Cusanus, Narrative and Pedagogy
Wednesday 2.30pm to 3.30pm

Moderator: Oliver Langworthy. University of St Andrews.

Paper : Jovino de Guzman Miroy. Ateneao de Manila University.
“Narrative and Inquiry in the Thought of Nicholas of Cusa.”

Session 5 – Cusanus, Exegesis and Reformation
Wednesday 3.45pm to 4.45pm

Moderator: William P. Hyland, University of St Andrews.

Paper 1: Sean Barret. University of St Andrews.
“Consent and Scriptural Exegesis in the Writings of Cusanus: The Case of Luke 1:38.”

Paper 2: Andrea Hugill. Independent Scholar.
“John Jewell’s Reception of Nicholas of Cusa: Were the Epistles to the Bohemians Proof of Hypocrisy in the Church of Rome?”

Session 6 – Cusanus, Mysticism and Devotion
Wednesday 5pm to 6pm

Moderator: Mark Elliott. University of Highlands and Islands.

Paper 1: Simon J.G. Burton. University of Edinburgh.
“Beatific Vision or Embrace? The Case of Denys the Carthusian and Nicholas of Cusa”

Paper 2: Tom Gaens. Ruusbroec Institute, University of Antwerp.
“In between Ruusbroec and Cusanus: Henry of Coesfeld’s devotional theology and its influence on Nicholas of Cusa.”

Closing Remarks

Optional Free Walking Tour of some St Andrews Religious Sites (Weather permitting: we’ll finalize the decision at the end of Session 6). Led by Bill Hyland. (Approximately 1hr). Meet inside the gate of St Mary’s College on South Street, we’ll leave promptly at 6.15pm.

The Cusanus Society UK & Ireland gratefully would like to thank the School of Divinity, University of St Andrews; the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh; and the St Andrews Encyclopaedia of Theology for their generous financial and logistical support.

Badge pick up

Cusanus conference delegates should pick up their name badge at the ‘Registration and help desk’ in Lower College Hall, St Salvator’s College (United College) from 8:15am on Tuesday 20 June.

Register here for the Cusanus conference, including the Cusanus dinner and service (see ‘Social activities during Cusanus conference’ below). 

The Cusanus conference is taking place during the same week as the European Academy of Religion’s 2023 annual conference and also in St Andrews. There may be opportunities to add on participation in that conference onto your Cusanus registration.


Cusanus conference delegates are invited to book University of St Andrews residence hall accommodation at a discounted rate by following these instructions.

The Cusanus Society are looking forward to hosting the following events during the conference:

The Cusanus Society UK & Ireland Service

Tuesday June 20th 15:45 (free)

All are welcome to an ecumenical service of Christian prayer in the lovely fifteenth-century St Salvators chapel. The service will include scriptural readings and period liturgical music, as well as a sermon of Cardinal Nicholas Cusanus.

The Cusanus Society UK & Ireland Dinner

Tuesday June 20th 18:00 (£45 per person)

The Cusanus Society UK & Ireland dinner will take place in the historic seventeenth-century Parliament Hall. The price includes a three-course buffet style meal, served with wine and a selection of soft drinks.

The Cusanus conference will be held in Parliament Hall within the University of St Andrews.

Inside parliament hall,  a wood panelled room with a long conference table and chairs. Parliament Hall, named as such since it was the meeting place for the Scots Parliament during 1645 to 1646, is situated in St Mary’s College, in St Mary’s Quadrangle. In the quad there is a large holm oak tree, which is around 275 years old and another ancient tree: a thorn tree, supposedly planted by Mary, Queen of Scots in the sixteenth century.

Location on Google Maps

Dr Ooesterhoff is sponsored by:

University of Edinburgh School of Divinity

St Salvator's chapel