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Title: Ars Artium: Penitential Poetry in Late Medieval England
Authors: Finn, Andrew
Advisors: ColeSmith, AndrewVance
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: Form
Subjects: Medieval literature
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Today, seemingly endless, repetitious streams of content in social media stoke the desire for constant newness and instant gratification, which has effectively made brevity an ideal form: the quicker, shorter, and smaller, the better. Such brevity would not have been unfamiliar to late medieval penitents—those who grieved over, confessed, and sought absolution for their sinful pasts repeatedly throughout life in the attempt to secure brighter futures after death—for they were constantly told that their lives were ephemeral, over before you know it in the blink of an eye. Something we have yet to recognize about ourselves and our obsession with short form is that it’s an effective means to attend to the mortality that we all share in the grand scheme of things, something which medieval poets crucially registered and made great use of. Indeed, we have a great deal to learn from the forms as well as practices they developed to attend to death. Ars Artium: Penitential Poetry in Late Medieval England explores how penitential poetry, in particular short, repetitious poetic forms whose brevity reproduces life’s transience, can illuminate the mortality that lies behind our lives and labors. By tracing poetry across the three stages of penance in the late medieval Christian tradition, we will see that when we experience repetitious short form as poetry, it harbors the capacity to at once ideologically imprison and liberate us: even if short forms can serve to limit life and enclose us into moments of immediacy, these boundaries need not be at the expense of being able to somehow connect one moment to the next on the page, providing grander perspectives than we might otherwise have. Speaking of which, in this poetry we will ultimately discover the medieval, penitential history behind our day-to-day lives, gaining a deeper appreciation for our indebtedness to (as well as our differences from) the Middle Ages and acquiring new methods to historicize ourselves.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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