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Studies by Time Period > Medieval and Renaissance Studies

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The American Kaleidoscope Cover

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The American Kaleidoscope

Race, Ethnicity, and the Civic Culture

Lawrence H. Fuchs

Do recent changes in American law and politics mean that our national motto -- e pluribus unum -- is at last becoming a reality? Lawrence H. Fuchs searches for answers to this question by examining the historical patterns of American ethnicity and the ways in which a national political culture has evolved to accommodate ethnic diversity. Fuchs looks first at white European immigrants, showing how most of them and especially their children became part of a unifying political culture. He also describes the ways in which systems of coercive pluralism kept persons of color from fully participating in the civic culture. He documents the dismantling of those systems and the emergence of a more inclusive and stronger civic culture in which voluntary pluralism flourishes.

In comparing past patterns of ethnicity in America with those of today, Fuchs finds reasons for optimism. Diversity itself has become a unifying principle, and Americans now celebrate ethnicity. One encouraging result is the acculturation of recent immigrants from Third World countries. But Fuchs also examines the tough issues of racial and ethnic conflict and the problems of the ethno-underclass, the new outsiders. The American Kaleidoscope ends with a searching analysis of public policies that protect individual rights and enable ethnic diversity to prosper.

Because of his lifelong involvement with issues of race relations and ethnicity, Lawrence H. Fuchs is singularly qualified to write on a grand scale about the interdependence in the United States of the unum and the pluribus. His book helps to clarify some difficult issues that policymakers will surely face in the future, such as those dealing with immigration, language, and affirmative action.

Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221 Cover

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Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221

By James M. Powell

James M. Powell here offers a new interpretation of the Fifth Crusade's historical and social impact, and a richly rewarding view of life in the thirteenth century. Powell addresses such questions as the degree of popular interest in the crusades, the religious climate of the period, the social structure of the membership of the crusade, and the effects of the recruitment effort on the outcome.

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The Ancient Flame

Dante and the Poets

Winthrop Wetherbee

While the structure and themes of the Divine Comedy are defined by the narrative of a spiritual pilgrimage guided by Christian truth, Winthrop Wetherbee’s remarkable new study reveals that Dante’s engagement with the great Latin poets Vergil, Ovid, Lucan, and Statius constitutes a second, complementary narrative centered on psychological and artistic self-discovery. This fresh, illuminating approach departs from the usual treatment of classical poets in Dante criticism, which assigns them a merely allegorical function. Their true importance to Dante’s project is much greater. As Wetherbee meticulously shows, Dante’s use of the poets is grounded in an astute understanding of their historical situation and a deeply sympathetic reading of their poetry. Dante may have been motivated to correct pagan thought and imagery, but more pervasive was his desire to recreate classical style and to restore classical auctoritas to his own times. Dante’s journey in the Commedia, beginning with the pilgrim’s assumption of a tragic view of the human condition, progresses with the great poetry of the classical past as an intrinsic component of—not just a foil to—the spiritual experience. Dante ultimately recognizes classical poetry as an essential means to his discovery of truth. A stunning contribution by one of the nation’s leading medievalists, Wetherbee’s investigation of the poem’s classicism makes possible an ethical and spiritual but non-Christian reading of Dante, one that will spur new research and become an indispensable tool for teaching the Commedia.

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Ancient Perspectives on Aristotles De anima

Gerd Van Riel, Pierre Destrée (eds)

Aristotle’s treatise On the Soul figures among the most influential texts in the intellectual history of the West. It is the first systematic treatise on the nature and functioning of the human soul, presenting Aristotle’s authoritative analyses of, among others, sense perception, imagination, memory, and intellect. The ongoing debates on this difficult work continue the commentary tradition that dates back to antiquity. This volume offers a selection of papers by distinguished scholars, exploring the ancient perspectives on Aristotle’s De anima, from Aristotle’s earliest successors through the Aristotelian Commentators at the end of Antiquity. It constitutes a twin publication with a volume entitled Medieval Perspectives on Aristotle’s De anima (to be published in the Series ‘Philosophes Médiévaux’, Peeters Publ.), both volumes appearing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the De Wulf Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy at K.U. Leuven and U.C. Louvain. Contributions by: Enrico Berti, Klaus Corcilius, Frans de Haas, Andrea Falcon, Patrick Macfarlane, Pierre-Marie Morel, Ronald Polansky, R.W. Sharples, Nathanael Stein, Annick Stevens, Joel Yurdin, Marco Zingano.

ANCIENT PRIVILEGES Cover

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ANCIENT PRIVILEGES

"BEOWULF,LAW, AND THEMAKING OF GERMANIC ANTIQUITY"

STEFAN JURASINSKI

One of the great triumphs of nineteenth-century philology was the development of the wide array of comparative data that underpins the grammars of the Old Germanic dialects, such as Old English, Old Icelandic, Old Saxon, and Gothic. These led to the reconstruction of Common Germanic and Proto-Germanic languages. Many individuals have forgotten that scholars of the same period were interested in reconstructing the body of ancient law that was supposedly shared by all speakers of Germanic. Stefan Jurasinski's Ancient Privileges: Beowulf, Law, and the Making of the Germanic Antiquity recounts how the work of nineteenth-century legal historians actually influenced the editing of Old English texts, most notably Beowulf, in ways that are still preserved in our editions. This situation has been a major contributor to the archaizing of Beowulf. In turn, Jurasinski's careful analysis of its assumptions in light of contemporary research offers a model for scholars to apply to a number of other textual artifacts that have been affected by what was known as the historische Rechtsschule. At the very least, it will change the way you think about Beowulf.

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Andreas Capellanus, Scholasticism, and the Courtly Tradition

Don A. Monson

This book, the first study in English devoted entirely to Andreas Capellanus's De Amore, presents a comprehensive inquiry into the influence of scholasticism on the structure and organization of the work, applying methods of medieval philosophy and intellectual history to an important problem in medieval literary studies.

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Angels and Earthly Creatures

Preaching, Performance, and Gender in the Later Middle Ages

By Claire M. Waters

Texts by, for, and about preachers from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries reveal an intense interest in the preacher's human nature and its intersection with his "angelic" role. Far from simply denigrating embodiment or excluding it from consideration, these works recognize its centrality to the office of preacher and the ways in which preachers, like Christ, needed humanness to make their performance of doctrine effective for their audiences. At the same time, the texts warned of the preacher's susceptibility to the fleshly failings of lust, vainglory, deception, and greed. Preaching's problematic juxtaposition of the earthly and the spiritual made images of women preachers, real and fictional, key to understanding and exploiting the power, as well as the dangers, of the feminized flesh.

Addressing the underexamined bodies of the clergy in light of both medieval and modern discussions of female authority and the body of Christ in medieval culture, Angels and Earthly Creatures reinserts women into the history of preaching and brings together discourses that would have been intertwined in the Middle Ages but are often treated separately by scholars. The examination of handbooks for preachers as literary texts also demonstrates their extensive interaction with secular literary traditions, explored here with particular reference to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Through a close and insightful reading of a wide variety of texts and figures, including Hildegard of Bingen, Birgitta of Sweden, and Catherine of Siena, Waters offers an original examination of the preacher's unique role as an intermediary—standing between heaven and earth, between God and people, participating in and responsible to both sides of that divide.

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Angels, Devils

The Supernatural and Its Visual Representation

Edited by Gerhatd Jaritz

Supernatural phenomena and causalities played an important role in medieval society. Religious practice was relying upon a set of cult images and the sacral status of these depictions of divine or supernatural persons became the object of heated debates and provoked iconoclastic reactions. The miraculous intervention of saints or other divine agents, the wondrous realities beyond understanding, or the manifestations of magic attributed to diabolic forces, were contained by a variety of discourses, described and discussed in religion, philosophy, chronicles, literature and fiction, and also in a large number of pictures and material objects. The nine essays in this collection discusses how supernatural phenomena – especially angels and devils – found visual manifestation in Latin and Eastern Christianity as well as Judaism in the late medieval, early renaissance period.

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Anglo-Saxon Styles

Art historian Meyer Schapiro defined style as “the constant form—and sometimes the constant elements, qualities, and expression—in the art of an individual or group.” Today, style is frequently overlooked as a critical tool, with our interest instead resting with the personal, the ephemeral, and the fragmentary. Anglo-Saxon Styles demonstrates just how vital style remains in a methodological and theoretical prism, regardless of the object, individual, fragment, or process studied. Contributors from a variety of disciplines—including literature, art history, manuscript studies, philology, and more— consider the definitions and implications of style in Anglo-Saxon culture and in contemporary scholarship. They demonstrate that the idea of style as a “constant form” has its limitations, and that style is in fact the ordering of form, both verbal and visual. Anglo-Saxon texts and images carry meanings and express agendas, presenting us with paradoxes and riddles that require us to keep questioning the meanings of style.

Animal Encounters Cover

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Animal Encounters

Contacts and Concepts in Medieval Britain

By Susan Crane

Traces of the living animal run across the entire corpus of medieval writing and reveal how pervasively animals mattered in medieval thought and practice. In fascinating scenes of cross-species encounters, a raven offers St. Cuthbert a lump of lard that waterproofs his visitors' boots for a whole year, a scholar finds inspiration for his studies in his cat's perfect focus on killing mice, and a dispossessed knight wins back his heritage only to give it up again in order to save the life of his warhorse. Readers have often taken such encounters to be merely figurative or fanciful, but Susan Crane discovers that these scenes of interaction are firmly grounded in the intimate cohabitation with animals that characterized every medieval milieu from palace to village. The animal encounters of medieval literature reveal their full meaning only when we recover the living animal's place within the written animal.

The grip of a certain humanism was strong in medieval Britain, as it is today: the humanism that conceives animals in diametrical opposition to humankind. Yet medieval writing was far from univocal in this regard. Latin and vernacular works abound in other ways of thinking about animals that invite the saint, the scholar, and the knight to explore how bodies and minds interpenetrate across species lines. Crane brings these other ways of thinking to light in her readings of the beast fable, the hunting treatise, the saint's life, the bestiary, and other genres. Her substantial contribution to the field of animal studies investigates how animals and people interact in culture making, how conceiving the animal is integral to conceiving the human, and how cross-species encounters transform both their animal and their human participants.

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