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Displaying: 1-9 of 9 documents


1. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Steven Breeze The Status of Secular Musicians in Early Medieval England: Ethnomusicology and Anglo-Saxon Musical Culture
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Can we delineate secular musicians in early medieval England? If so, what was their social status, particularly from the perspective of the Christian hierarchy? The present article considers these questions in relation to a status paradigm hypothesized by the ethnomusicologist Alan Merriam. Merriam’s paradigm suggests that musicians are important for society, but they possess low status and are associated with deviance, which may be denounced yet simultaneously sanctioned by members of wider society. This article maintains that the musician is distinct from the poet or scop in early medieval England. Old English poetry idealizes musicians and represents the principal instrument of entertainment, the lyre, symbolically. However, nonpoetic material criticizes comparable performance practices. The views demonstrated in eighth-century English writing by Bede and Alcuin, and in the Canons of Clofesho, suggest that the popularity and influence of secular artistry in religious spaces and at religious events become an increasing issue. However, a letter by Abbot Cuthbert writing from Bede’s former monastery indicates lyres might have been played in monastic settings. Additional literary, archaeological, and illustrative evidence suggests that being a musician was not inherently a low-status pursuit. Lyrists are associated with deviance only in certain contexts and spaces, and there is apparent need for them in wider society. The status of the secular musician in eighth-century England is somewhat ambivalent, but is found not to reflect Merriam’s overly-simplistic paradigm. An alternative is proposed, accounting for the complexity of early medieval English social structures and cultural perspectives.
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2. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Mihai Dragnea Crusade and Colonization in the Wendish Territories in the Early Twelfth Century: An Analysis of the So-called Magdeburg Letter of 1108
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This study will consider the colonization process during the twelfth century in a new, previously undiscussed context. A frontier movement, involving expansion into and colonization of Wendish territories that had been little developed in terms of infrastructure in earlier times was accompanied by an intensification of crusading ideas from much more developed regions. This study deals with the German eastward expansion and colonization (in both theory and practice) across the Elbe in the twelfth century under the shadow of crusading ideology, as reflected in the so-called Magdeburg Letter of 1108. It also emphasizes lay colonization as one of the main factors in the process of the Europeanization of the Wends.
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3. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Joseph Rudolph The Narrative Persona in the Cosmographia of Bernard Silvestris
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This article calls attention to the presence of a narrative persona in the Cosmographia of Bernard Silvestris. This persona is that of a masterful poet and scholar, but a figure who, as a fallen human, is alienated from humanity’s original state—an important caveat if we are to properly understand Bernard’s relationship to his material. The article goes on to suggest an important implication of this persona for our understanding of the role of gender in the poem. Examined in light of twelfth-century notions of the gender dynamics of allegory and of clerical Neoplatonic poetry, Bernard’s narrator may be linked to the primus homo presented at the conclusion of Microcosmos 14. This reading suggests an answer to the question of the absence of a human female, the creation of whom is excluded in the abrupt ending of Bernard’s narrative.
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4. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Matthew V. Desing Gender, Crisis, and Deviation in the Spaces of Clerical Romance: The Heterotopias of the Libro de Apolonio
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The anonymous author of the Libro de Apolonio, the thirteenth-century mester de clerecía version of the popular Apollonius of Tyre legend, dedicates one-third of his lengthy poem to heterotopic spaces, and his unique portrayals of these rarified emplacements stand out from other medieval versions of the narrative. The way that the anonymous Castilian author navigates these spaces reveals much about the ideology of the mester de clerecía version, especially in regard to gender. In order to examine how this is the case, this article first explores the qualities of heterotopias and their presence across the Apollonius of Tyre narrative tradition; it then goes on to compare the ways that the mester de clerecía version of the legend portrays heterotopias differently from its Latin source text; finally, it examines how the anonymous Castilian author constructs heterotopias in ways that highlight the agency, skill, and access to discourse of the narrative’s two primary female characters.
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5. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Laurie Shepard From Anthology to Authority in the Vita Nova
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This essay examines the “mini-anthology” composed of “Venite a ’ntender li sospiri miei,” “Deh peregrini, che pensosi andate,” and “Oltre la spera che più larga gira,” which Dante recounts at the close of the Vita Nova that he sent to two noble ladies. The mini-anthology offers a new juxtaposition of two of the collection’s poems, and separates all three from the prose context provided in the book. In a close reading of the three sonnets, the essay proposes that, as a discrete entity, the anthology makes a case for the poet’s authority based exclusively on his new understanding of the love of Beatrice in glory, a love that transcends death and the anima sensitiva, as opposed an authority based on the appeal to famous poets for approval made at the opening of the book or on the poetic apprenticeship rehearsed in it. A fundamental shift in the paradigm of conferring poetic authority is also suggested: authority will now arise from the recognition of men and women who are not poets but who have the nobility of mind to appreciate Dante’s new spiritualized poetics. Cavalcanti, both a poet and a nobleman, is the exception to this formulation, and the essay’s third argument concerns Dante’s intense poetic and philosophical dialogue with him, which continues through the three sonnets.
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6. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Marco Andreacchio Christianity and Philosophy in Dante: A Critical Response to Paul Stern, Dante’s Philosophical Life
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Paul Stern’s recent volume on Dante as advocate of a postmetaphysical politics stands at the forefront of a contemporary academic trend to de-theologize Dante, which is to say, to depict his teachings along the lines of radical historical immanentism, as if Dante were a precursor of modernity’s severing of human nature from divine transcendence. While critiquing Stern’s readings of both Catholic theology and Dante’s poetry, the present article exemplifies a novel approach to the Florentine’s work, reexamining how it helps us deepen our appreciation of the relation between Christianity and philosophy. Stern’s challenge to theological readings of Dante leaves the door open to a reconciliation of the Florentine with medieval Church doctrine on irreducibly dialectical grounds. Rather than pointing to philosophical poetry’s instrumentalizing of theology, as Stern teaches, the irreducibility of Dante’s poetics to revealed theology invites awareness of philosophy’s original presence at theology’s sacred heart.
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7. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Gur Zak Boccaccio’s Filocolo and the Polyphony of Consolation
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One of the striking features of Giovanni Boccaccio’s early vernacular prose epic, Il Filocolo, is the prevalence of scenes of lament and consolation throughout the narrative. Despite the evident centrality of consolation to the Filocolo, scholars have by and large ignored this aspect of the work. The aim of this article is to elucidate the centrality of consolation to the Filocolo’s overall meaning and to highlight the novelty of Boccaccio’s approach to consolation in it, arguing that the work establishes a significant literary alternative to the Boethian consolation of philosophy. Deeply influenced by Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Boccaccio’s Filocolo subverts the judgmental, universalist, and otherworldly approach of Boethius’s Lady Philosophy and offers instead a vision of consolation that is empathetic, this-worldly, and strongly attuned to the sufferer’s particular needs and abilities.
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8. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Laura Banella Fiammetta and Héloïse: Boccaccio’s Female Auctor and Women Intellectuals
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Boccaccio’s Elegy of Lady Fiammetta stages the autobiographical narrative of a woman. Many critics have explored the style chosen for Fiammetta by Boccaccio, as well as the wide-ranging sources he used to characterize her as a sophisticated writer. Because Boccaccio also bases her portrayal on actual women, however, her persona poses fundamental questions about women’s agency. This essay explores Fiammetta as the declared author of the text, and the ways in which she personifies a fourteenth-century woman writer. It emphasizes the significance of Fiammetta’s being literarily self-aware, learned, and steeped in ancient and contemporary writing. By investigating how Fiammetta is represented as a vernacular poet, while also remaining a supposedly real woman, this study sheds light on the significance of a probable model for her portrayal: Héloïse. This parallel points to the theory of intentions as developed in Abelard’s Ethics and Héloïse’s letters, which Boccaccio re-elaborates through Fiammetta, in a path that leads to the ethics of the Decameron.
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9. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Alyssa Granacki Domesticating Philosophy: Dante’s Women in Boccaccio
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This article brings together two works by the fourteenth-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio: his public lectures, Expositions on Dante’s Divine Comedy, and the Latin collection of biographies On Famous Women. Placing these texts in conversation with one another, this article analyzes the five women from antiquity—Lucretia, Julia, Lavinia, Penthesilea, and Camila—who appear in Dante’s Inferno and both Boccaccian texts. The first half of the article evaluates Boccaccio’s claim in the Expositions that the women in Inferno 4 shall be seated alongside philosophers in the afterlife. Through these women, Boccaccio connects the domestic sphere with philosophical knowledge, thereby undermining the idea that philosophy is only for erudite men in schools, and disrupting distinctions between practical and theoretical philosophy. The second half turns to Boccaccio’s portrayals of the same female figures in On Famous Women. Examining how their representations in the Latin compendium compare—and, at times, conflict—with Boccaccio’s writing in the Expositions, the article considers how Boccaccio problematizes what constitutes virtuous behavior and philosophical knowledge for women. It concludes that Boccaccio affirms that philosophy is available in the hearts and minds of men and women alike, and that praiseworthy women exist both within the domestic space and beyond it.
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