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Title: Potential Theologies: Scholasticism and Middle English Literature
Authors: Chong, Kenneth
Advisors: Smith, D V
Heller-Roazen, Daniel
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: Middle English
Religious literature
Vernacular theology
Subjects: Medieval literature
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation is an intellectual and literary history of medieval theology, spanning the eleventh and fourteenth centuries. In particular, it considers the development of theology from the beginnings of scholasticism (starting with Anselm of Canterbury's Monologion) to its poetic instantiations in the later Middle Ages. Observing how theologians thought about their own discipline - especially in prologues to commentaries on Peter Lombard's remarkably influential Sentences - I trace changing attitudes to Scripture, rationality, and knowledge, and argue that a crisis in scholasticism opened up new possibilities for doing theology in poetry. Against some prevailing views, Potential Theologies: Scholasticism and Middle English Literature affirms the continuing relevance of scholastic thought to literary studies. At the same time, it rewrites the history of theology by taking seriously the contribution of medieval poets. The decline of scholastic theology paradoxically lead to its powerful return in narrative, as witnessed in fourteenth-century poems like Pearl and Piers Plowman. These poems (the two examples explored) represent new theologies that emerge from the ruins of scholasticism - potential theologies that critique yet continue the tradition of their predecessors. Fragments of that older discourse are reconstructed as poetic visions or narrative experiments. In the hands of the Pearl-poet, sophisticated ideas about physics, money, and the sacraments are used to present a novel economy of salvation. Langland, however, offers the figures of Clergy and Piers as alternatives for divine knowledge, even as he registers the disappearance of scholastic theology in its current form.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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