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Displaying: 21-40 of 658 documents

21. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Laurie Shepard

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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.

22. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Marco Andreacchio

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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.

23. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Gur Zak

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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.

24. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Laura Banella

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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.

25. Mediaevalia: Volume > 42
Alyssa Granacki

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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.


26. Mediaevalia: Volume > 41
Marilynn R. Desmond

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27. Mediaevalia: Volume > 41
Dana M. Polanichka

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28. Mediaevalia: Volume > 41
Lisa M. C. Weston

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29. Mediaevalia: Volume > 41
Joyce Coleman

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30. Mediaevalia: Volume > 41
Deborah McGrady

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31. Mediaevalia: Volume > 41
Lucille Chia

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The history of book culture and printing in East Asia shows how different cultures that used the same manuscript and print techniques to produce many of the same books in the same language (Chinese) developed distinctive book cultures. This essay focuses on China and compares its book culture with those of Korea and Japan, from the inception of woodblock printing around the late seventh century until about 1600. Other peoples were also heavily influenced throughout history by Chinese culture in East Asia and Inner Asia, such as the Mongols, Khitans, Tanguts, and Uighurs. We should note, however, that some of the peoples in this vast area adopted and modified the Chinese writing system, even if their languages were very different from Chinese. They also used printing technologies from China—both woodblock and movable type, often within a century of the development of a writing system for their own languages. The history of the uses of printing technologies and their adoption and adaptation in different cultures therefore helps us understand the nature of technologies in general.

32. Mediaevalia: Volume > 41
Beatrice Arduini

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33. Mediaevalia: Volume > 41
David Lavinsky

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34. Mediaevalia: Volume > 41
Mark Cruse

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35. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Todd Preston

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Ælfric’s Colloquy has often been read as a window into the life of the working class in the Anglo-Saxon period. A close reading of Ælfric’s portrayal of the fisherman further shows the Colloquy to be a text that provides an equally revealing picture of its ecological context. Reading the fisherman’s section of Ælfric’s Colloquy in light of archaeological, historical, and ecological evidence illuminates where the author accurately represents the Anglo-Saxon fishery and where he wanders into uncertain waters. Specifically, by comparing the Colloquy’s lists of fish species to the evidence for what archaeologists call the “fish event horizon” of the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, the Colloquy provides a surprisingly accurate depiction of the ecological context of the Anglo-Saxon fishery as it begins to shift from an inland, freshwater fishery to a marine one.

36. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Anne L. Clark

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Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München Clm 935 (the so-called Prayer Book of Hildegard of Bingen, produced in the 1170s in the Rhineland) offered an innovative program for women’s prayer. Coupling full-page paintings of sequential biblical scenes with prayers linking the biblical episode to the personal life of the reader, the manuscript offered its user not only an abridged visual Bible, but a new type of support for a complex devotional practice. With complementary but by no means homogeneous possibilities of meaning suggested by the words and images, the reader/viewer was enabled to craft a way of prayer not explicitly guided by rubrics or directions. Focusing on scenes from the Creation series and the Passion narrative, this essay uses some recent insights of neuroscience and cognitive theory to provide a reading of the kind of mental experience likely to be engaged by the reader/viewer of this prayer book.

37. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Christopher Davis

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This essay reexamines the uniquely extensive corpus of prose commentaries (razos) for the twelfth-century troubadour Bertran de Born that accompany his poems in several extant Italian manuscripts from the thirteenth century. It argues that commentaries testify to a debate among Italian readers about how to interpret this poet’s distinctive political and moral messages. The essay shows Bertran’s razos to have been key texts in the reception of troubadour literary culture in Italy at a crucial moment in its development, and sheds light on the role of Occitan lyric in the politics of patronage at Italian courts.

38. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Bianca Facchini Orcid-ID

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This article examines Dante’s redeployment of Lucan’s Bellum civile in the Monarchia and Epistles 5–7, and shows how Dante appropriates Lucan’s poem in order to support his philo-imperial agenda. In anchoring his Christian imperial ideal in the historical precedent of ancient Rome, Dante applies Lucan’s text to the task of extolling the Roman political past, considered as a continuous historical reality throughout its monarchic, Republican, and Imperial phases. In so doing, Dante both emphasizes philo-Roman elements already implicit in the Bellum civile and quotes Lucanian passages out of context, thus altering or notably twisting their original meaning. Dante glosses over Lucan’s denunciation of inter-Roman civil wars and focuses, rather, on the conflicts that ancient Rome fought and won against its external enemies. Moreover, Dante rereads ancient Roman history as governed by Divine Providence and transforms Lucan’s pessimistic historical account into a Christian teleological narrative. In the Epistles, Dante claims that true freedom is only possible under a single ruler and implicitly equates the evils of the Roman civil war with the chaos and anarchy of anti-imperial Florence.

39. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Rachel Dressler

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The Tomb of Edward II is an imposing monument with a striking tiered, gabled superstructure and an alabaster effigy of the king. The elaborate nature of this memorial is unexpected when one contemplates the difficult course of Edward’s reign and, especially, its termination in his deposition and death. Equally surprising is the use of alabaster for his figure, as this material had never previously been used for an effigy and was not at the time a particularly valued stone. This essay considers what might have been the response to this tomb and to the alabaster figure of the king within the context of his grim end. Alabaster had a longstanding lapidary tradition that associated it with preserving the dead, and was mentioned in the Bible in relation to the life of Christ. These associations, when coupled with alabaster’s whiteness and luminosity, may have worked to sanctify the former ruler, thus camouflaging the turbulence at the end of his life and legitimating the succession of his son Edward III to the throne.

40. Mediaevalia: Volume > 40
Ethan K. Smilie

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In Canto 19 of the Inferno and in the Summoner’s Tale, Dante and Chaucer show a remarkable congruity of thought in regard to simony. The two poets portray the nature and effects of the sin by means of a number of specific correspondent depictions: that of the simonists’ ostensible desire to build up the Church, which is in both cases portrayed physically and in reference to the past work of Peter and the Apostles (as well as to the contemporary thought of the Spiritual Franciscans); that of simony in terms of sexual perversion; that of the “goods” acquired by the simonists as destructive; and, finally, the parodic depiction of sacramental confession alongside the laity’s usurpation of its administration. Ultimately, both authors utilize parodic allusions to demonstrate how the authority of the Church is weakened by simoniacal clergy. Within these congruities, however, there is one significant divergence, which is the poets’ portrayals of friars. Although for both poets the depictions of friars serve largely the same end, the manner in which they are employed differs vastly, a divergence that may be accounted for by the poets’ disparate political and ecclesiastical environments.