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Rethinking the New Medievalism

edited by R. Howard Bloch, Alison Calhoun, Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, Joachim Küpper, and Jeanette Patterson

Publication Year: 2014

In the early 1990s, Stephen Nichols introduced the term "new medievalism" to describe an alternative to the traditional philological approach to the study of the romantic texts in the medieval period. While the old approach focused on formal aspects of language, this new approach was historicist and moved beyond a narrow focus on language to examine the broader social and cultural contexts in which literary works were composed and disseminated. Within the field, this transformation of medieval studies was as important as the genetic revolution to the study of biology and has had an enormous influence on the study of medieval literature. Rethinking the New Medievalism offers both a historical account of the movement and its achievements while indicating—in Nichols’s innovative spirit—still newer directions for medieval studies. The essays deal with questions of authorship, theology, and material philology and are written by members of a wide philological and critical circle that Nichols nourished for forty years. Daniel Heller-Roazen’s essay, for example, demonstrates the conjunction of the old philology and the new. In a close examination of the history of the words used for maritime raiders from Ancient Greece to the present (pirate, plunderer, bandit), Roazen draws a fine line between lawlessness and lawfulness, between judicial action and war, between war and public policy. Other contributors include Jack Abecassis, Marina Brownlee, Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, Andreas Kablitz, and Ursula Peters.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii

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Introduction. The New Philology Comes of Age

R. Howard Bloch

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pp. 1-11

“In medieval studies, philology is the matrix from which all else springs.” With that capacious claim, Stephen Nichols famously introduced a special issue of Speculum, entitled The New Philology (1990), which provoked fiery polemics while spurring disciplinary innovation.1 In one form or another, the studies in...

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1. New Challenges for the New Medievalism

Stephen C. Nichols

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pp. 12-38

Scholarship is driven by technology far more often than we may care to admit. And technology is more diverse in its manifestations than one imagines, even difficult to recognize as such, on occasion. At least that seems to be the case for medieval culture, which was a particularly intense period for technological...

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2. Reflections on The New Philology

Gabrielle M. Spiegel

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pp. 39-50

Before reflecting on the goals, nature, and achievements of Stephen Nichols’s edited 1990 volume for Speculum on The New Philology, it might prove helpful to provide some background about how the volume came to be and the furor that it caused in the profession after its publication...

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3. Virgil’s “Perhaps”: Mythopoiesis and Cosmogony in Dante’s Commedia (Remarks on Inf. 34, 106–26)

Gerhard Regn

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pp. 51-68

One of the undeniable contributions of New Medievalism is its revitalization of the debate concerning medieval authorship— a debate in which fundamental questions about the otherness of medieval auctorial authorities have been reconsidered, while at the same time the unreflective projection of modern...

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4. Dialectic of the Medieval Course

Daniel Heller-Roazen

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pp. 69-84

Whether ancient, medieval, or modern, seafarers share one common trait: despite the havoc they may wreak, they cannot all be considered equally illegitimate. Many sources indicate, admittedly, that maritime explorers are generally to be feared; but it is significant that, no matter the force they may exert, sailors...

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5. Religious Horizon and Epic Effect: Considerations on the Iliad, the Chanson de Roland, and the Nibelungenlied

Joachim Küpper

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pp. 85-99

In the Iliad, the human and divine worlds are intimately connected, as already established by their genealogy. The gods fight on the side of men, using natural and supernatural means, and their interventions decide the course of war. Yet even this moment of interaction is not the decisive aspect for epic effect; it is the...

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6. The Possibility of Historical Time in the Crónica Sarracina

Marina Brownlee

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pp. 100-114

In a recent essay, Caroline Bynum notes that lately, historical studies have involved “a retreat from the textual: the renewed interest in material culture and physical objects . . . and by a renewed recourse to . . . cognitive explanations for human behavior.”1 I would like to consider a fifteenth- century text by not retreating...

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7. Good Friday Magic: Petrarch’s Canzoniere and the Transformation of Medieval Vernacular Poetry

Andreas Kablitz

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pp. 115-135

The reception of Petrarch’s work, and especially the reception of his Canzoniere, has been, in modern times, largely determined by two tendencies, the temporal coordinates of which have been antithetic, if not, at least at first glance, contradictory. On the one hand, his poetic work is considered to be an important step...

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8. The Identity of a Text

Jan-Dirk Müller

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pp. 136-150

Philologists have to be devoted to detail. As one German author has written, philology is Andacht zum Kleinen. New Philology, what ever the enemies say, means dealing with minor details, too, as did Old Philology before. So, in a conference in honor of one of the leading new philologists— or, as he prefers—...

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9. Conceiving the Text in the Middle Ages

Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet

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pp. 151-161

As though presiding over a new Marriage of Mercury and Philology, Stephen Nichols has always succeeded in uniting Mercury— or interdisciplinary dialogue— and Philology, who is, as Martianus Cappella tells us, the daughter of Phronesis, or wisdom. The January 1990 issue of Speculum that he edited...

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10. Dante’s Transfigured Ovidian Models: Icarus and Daedalus in the Commedia

Kevin Brownlee

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pp. 162-180

The privileged status of key narratives from Ovid’s Metamorphoses as model texts for Dante’s Commedia is well known.1 In this chapter, I consider a particularly dense double set: Daedalus and Icarus (Met. 8.183– 235). I argue that the Commedia sets up a Daedalus “program” beginning in Inferno 17.109– 11, where...

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11. Ekphrasis in the Knight’s Tale

Andrew James Johnston

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pp. 181-197

Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale is one of the poet’s most insistent engagements with classical antiquity. Emulating and sometimes even surpassing his direct source, Boccaccio’s Teseida, Chaucer highlights and simultaneously problematizes not only his deep immersion in the classical but also the extent to which that immersion...

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12. Montaigne’s Medieval Nominalism and Meschonnic’s Ethics of the Subject

Jack Abecassis

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pp. 198-217

In the words of Henri Meschonnic, “Nominalism is the only [theory of language] that permits an ethics of subjects, thus a politics of subjects. It was already in the sentence of Montaigne: ‘Each man carries the entire form, of the human condition.’ ”1 My concern in this chapter is to link Montaigne’s formal...

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13. The Pèlerinage Corpus in the Europe an Middle Ages: Processes of Retextualization Reflected in the Prologues

Ursula Peters

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pp. 218-235

Present- day medieval literature scholars have come to acknowledge the great extent to which medieval literature is a textual practice of rewriting.1 This concept exceeds by far what has, until recently, been taken as a feature of medieval literature production, per for mance, and manuscript tradition, subsumed under...

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14. Narrative Frames of Augustinian Thought in the Renaissance: The Case of Rabelais

Deborah N/ Losse

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pp. 236-248

In his contribution to The New Medievalism, Giuseppe Mazzotta comments that “Renaissance scholars . . . have long been aware of how blurred the dividing line between ‘medieval’ and ‘Renaissance’ culture is.”1 And yet, Rabelais, with references to le temps . . . tenebreux (the dark time), the age of the “infélicité et...

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15. From Romanesque Architecture to Romance

R. Howard Bloch

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pp. 249-270

In the year 1143, Abbot Suger, who had been born into a poor family and, through education, rose to become head of Saint- Denis, toward the end of the first phase of a remarkable building project that had begun in 1136, undertook to make a written record of what is recognized to be the construction of the first Gothic...


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pp. 271-272


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pp. 273-280

E-ISBN-13: 9781421412429
E-ISBN-10: 142141242X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421412412
Print-ISBN-10: 1421412411

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 7 halftones
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 878739180
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Rethinking the New Medievalism

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Middle Ages in literature.
  • Civilization, Medieval -- Social aspects.
  • Criticism, Textual.
  • Literature, Medieval -- History and criticism.
  • Medievalism.
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