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Ronnie Hsia, "Personality Theory and Personnel Policy in the Society of Jesus, 16th-18th Centuries"

This proposal aims to carry out a pilot study: evaluate all extant triennial reports from the Jesuit China Mission and correlate the results with the career paths of Jesuit missionaries between 1582 and 1773. With the help of a specialist in the digital humanities, I will construct a prosopographical database using a relational database management system. Data on age cohort, nationality, psychological trait, and status with the Society of Jesus will form the variables. I am especially interested in the use of personality theories in personnel evaluation. Using the Galenic scheme of Four Humors, Jesuit superiors were instructed to evaluate their subordinates according to phlegm, choler, melancholy, and sanguinity. Particular personality types were understood to be suitable for intellectual work or leadership roles. While the theory of humor has been studied by intellectual historians, it has never been analyzed as a theory in action. The application of digital analysis to this large dataset will provide an opportunity.