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Medieval Allegory

ENGL 715.401
instructor(s):
T 2-5

 

For the Middle Ages, allegory represents a nexus of literary history and textual theory, hermeneutics and theology, intellectual history and education, and theories of history and the transmission of culture. Through medieval allegorical practices we see some of the deepest continuities with ancient hermeneutical thought and also some of the most radical ruptures with the ancient past. Allegory, in other words, was as crucial and charged a term for medieval culture as for contemporary thought. Allegory is at once a trope, that is, a specific and delimited form, and an all-encompassing interpretive system. It will be the purpose of this seminar to try to articulate the connections between that particular form and that general system by examining medieval allegory in its various literary and philosophical contexts. Our focus will be the 12th through the early 15th centuries in both the vernacular and Latin, with attention to late antique philosophical and theological foundations. We will also incorporate readings from various modern perspectives on the history and theory of allegory, Readings will include theoretical perspectives from neoplatonist and early Christian writers, 12th-century poetry and mythography (Alain de Lille, Bernardus Silvestris, William of Conches), examples from later medieval theological writings, and substantial selections from the Roman de la Rose, Dante, Boccaccio, Gower, Langland, and Christine de Pizan.

Fulfills #1 requirement.