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Poetry, Public Performance, and the Presentation of the Past
Arabic literary salons emerged in ninth-century Iraq and, by the tenth, were flourishing in Baghdad and other urban centers. In an age before broadcast media and classroom education, salons were the primary source of entertainment and escape for middle- and upper-rank members of society, serving also as a space and means for educating the young. Although salons relied on a culture of oral performance from memory, scholars of Arabic literature have focused almost exclusively on the written dimensions of the tradition. That emphasis, argues Samer Ali, has neglected the interplay of oral and written, as well as of religious and secular knowledge in salon society, and the surprising ways in which these seemingly discrete categories blurred in the lived experience of participants. Looking at the period from 500 to 1250, and using methods from European medieval studies, folklore, and cultural anthropology, Ali interprets Arabic manuscripts in order to answer fundamental questions about literary salons as a social institution. He identifies salons not only as sites for socializing and educating, but as loci for performing literature and oral history; for creating and transmitting cultural identity; and for continually reinterpreting the past. A fascinating recovery of a key element of humanistic culture, Ali’s work will encourage a recasting of our understanding of verbal art, cultural memory, and daily life in medieval Arab culture.
A Forgotten Heritage
Arabic culture was a central and shaping phenomenon in medieval Europe, yet its influence on medieval literature has been ignored or marginalized for the last two centuries. In this ground-breaking book, now returned to print with a new afterword by the author, María Rosa Menocal argues that major modifications of the medieval canon and its literary history are necessary.
Menocal reviews the Arabic cultural presence in a variety of key settings, including the courts of William of Aquitaine and Frederick II, the universities in London, Paris, and Bologna, and Cluny under Peter the Venerable, and she examines how our perception of specific texts including the courtly love lyric and the works of Dante and Boccaccio would be altered by an acknowledgment of the Arabic cultural component.
Were aristocratic women in medieval France little more than appendages to patrilineal families, valued as objects of exchange and necessary only for the production of male heirs? Such was the view proposed by the great French historian Georges Duby more than three decades ago and still widely accepted. In Aristocratic Women in Medieval France another model is put forth: women of the landholding elite—from countesses down to the wives of ordinary knights—had considerable rights, and exercised surprising power.
The authors of the volume offer five case studies of women from the mid-eleventh through the thirteenth centuries, and from regions as diverse as Blois-Chartres, Champagne, Flanders, and Occitania. They show not only the diversity of life experiences these women enjoyed but the range of social and political roles open to them. The ecclesiastical and secular sources they mine confirm that women were regarded as full members of both their natal and affinal families, were never excluded from inheriting and controlling property, and did not have their share of family property limited to dowries. Women across France exchanged oaths for fiefs and assumed responsibilities for enfeoffed knights. As feudal lords, they settled disputes involving vassals, fortified castles, and even led troops into battle.
Aristocratic Women in Medieval France clearly shows that it is no longer possible to depict well-born women as powerless in medieval society. Demonstrating the importance of aristocratic women in a period during which they have been too long assumed to have lacked influence, it forces us to reframe our understanding of the high Middle Ages.
Douglas Kelly provides a comprehensive and historically valid analysis of the art of medieval French romance as the romancers themselves describe it. He focuses on well-known writers, such as Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France, and also draws on a wide range of other sources—prose romances, non-Arthurian romances, thirteenth-century verse romances, and variant versions from the later Middle Ages.
Kelly is the first scholar to present the “art” of medieval romance to a modern audience through the interventions and comments of medieval writers themselves. The book begins by examining the difficulties scholars perceive in medieval literature: problems such as source and intertextuality, structure in its manifold modern meanings, and character psychology and individuality. These issues frame Kelly’s identification and discussion of all the known authorial interventions on the art and craft of romance. Kelly’s careful reconstruction of the “art” of romance, based on the records left by the romancers themselves, will be an invaluable resource and guide for all medievalists.
Rojas and Delicado
Rojas's Celestina (1499) is perhaps the second greatest work of Spanish literature, right after Don Quixote, and Delicado sought to surpass it with La Lozana andaluza (1530), an important precedent of the picaresque novel.Both works were written during the height of the Inquisition, when the only relatively safe way for New Christian writers of Jewish extraction like Rojas and Delicado to express what they felt about the discrimination they suffered and their doubts regarding the faith that had been forced upon their ancestors was in a covert, indirect manner. Some scholars have detected this subversive element in Rojas' and Delicado's corrosive view of the Christian societies in which they lived, but this book goes far beyond such impressionism, showing through abundant textual evidence that these two authors used superficial bawdiness and claims regarding the morality of their respective works as cover to encode attacks against the central dogmas of Christianity: the Annunciation, the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, and the Holy Trinity.This book, which will generate controversy among Hispanists, many of whom have refused to examine these works for non-Catholic views, will be of interest not only to students and scholars of Spanish literature, but also to those involved in Jewish studies, Medieval European history, and cultural studies.
The Complete Works of Hartmann von Aue
Hartmann von Aue (c. 1170-1215) is universally recognized as the first medieval German poet to create world-class literature. He crafted German into a language of refined literary expression that paved the way for writers such as Gottfried von Strassburg, Walther von der Vogelweide, and Wolfram von Eschenbach. This volume presents the English reader for the first time with the complete works of Hartmann in readable, idiomatic English. Hartmann's literary efforts cover all the major genres and themes of medieval courtly literature. His Arthurian romances, Erec and Iwein, which he modeled after Chrétien de Troyes, introduced the Arthurian world to German audiences and set the standard for later German writers. His lyric poetry treats many aspects of courtly love, including fine examples of the crusading song. His dialogue on love delineates the theory of courtly relationships between the sexes and the quandary the lover experiences. His verse novellas Gregorius and Poor Heinrich transcend the world of mere human dimensions and examine the place and duties of the human in the divine scheme of things. Longfellow would later use Poor Heinrich in his Golden Legend. Arthurian Romances, Tales, and Lyric Poetry is a major work destined to place Hartmann at the center of medieval courtly literature for English readers.
This book provides the historical background for a central issue in the history of science: the influence of artisans, craftsmen, and other practitioners on the emergent empirical methodologies that characterized the “new sciences” of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Long offers a coherent account and critical revision of the “Zilsel thesis,” an influential etiological narrative which argues that such craftsmen were instrumental in bringing about the “Scientific Revolution.”
Artisan/Practitioners reassesses the issue of artisanal influence from three different perspectives: the perceived relationships between art and nature; the Vitruvian architectural tradition with its appreciation of both theory and practice; and the development of “trading zones”—arenas in which artisans and learned men communicated in substantive ways. These complex social and intellectual developments, the book argues, underlay the development of the empirical sciences.
This volume provides new discussion and synthesis of a theory that encompasses broad developments in European history and study of the natural world. It will be a valuable resource for college-level teaching, and for scholars and others interested in the history of science, late medieval and early modern European history, and the Scientific Revolution.
An Introspective Philosophy
Augustine's Love of Wisdom is an analytical and interpretive focus on the first thirty chapters of book ten of Augustine's Autobiographical Confessions. Bourke provides a rich synthesis of key tenets of Augustine's psychology in the context of his philosophical system and selects the most intensive writing of Augustine on the intricacies of the human psyche, providing the reader with insight on an Augustinian explanatory method, introspection.
The Augustinian Epic, Petrarch to Milton rewrites the history of the Renaissance Vergilian epic by incorporating the neo-Latin side of the story alongside the vernacular one, revealing how epics spoke to each other "across the language gap" and together comprised a single, "Augustinian tradition" of epic poetry. Beginning with Petrarch's Africa, Warner offers major new interpretations of Renaissance epics both famous and forgotten—from Milton's Paradise Lost to a Latin Christiad by his near-contemporary, Alexander Ross—thereby shedding new light on the development of the epic genre. For advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and scholars in the fields of Italian, English, and Comparative literatures as well as the Classics and the history of religion and literature.
Jean Gerson and the Transformation of Late Medieval Learning
Widely recognized by contemporaries as the most powerful theologian of his generation, Jean Gerson (1363-1429) dominated the stage of western Europe during a time of plague, fratricidal war, and religious schism. Yet modern scholarship has struggled to define Gerson's place in history, even as it searches for a compelling narrative to tell the story of his era.
Daniel Hobbins argues for a new understanding of Gerson as a man of letters actively managing the publication of his works in a period of rapid expansion in written culture. More broadly, Hobbins casts Gerson as a mirror of the complex cultural and intellectual shifts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In contrast to earlier theologians, Gerson took a more humanist approach to reading and to authorship. He distributed his works, both Latin and French, to a more diverse medieval public. And he succeeded in reaching a truly international audience of readers within his lifetime. Through such efforts, Gerson effectively embodies the aspirations of a generation of writers and intellectuals. Removed from the narrow confines of late scholastic theology and placed into a broad interdisciplinary context, his writings open a window onto the fascinating landscape of fifteenth-century Europe.
The picture of late medieval culture that emerges from this study is neither a specter of decaying scholasticism nor a triumphalist narrative of budding humanism and reform. Instead, Hobbins describes a period of creative and dynamic growth, when new attitudes toward writing and debate demanded and eventually produced new technologies of the written word.