Textual Interpretation
in Medieval Vernaculars

Fordham University, Lincoln Center, New York City: February 25, 2012
Leon Lowenstein Building, South Lounge

Symposium Aims

This Symposim is dedicated to the question of how vernacular texts were interpreted in the Middle Ages. The question is a challenging one, particularly with regard to the early and high middle ages. Although explicit commentaries on how to interpret vernacular texts are available in the early thirteenth century for the Roman de la Rose of Guillaume de Loris and Jean de Meun, and in the early fourteenth century for Dante and the Ovide Moralisé (in the form of a bulky paraphrase and interpretation of a classical poem), such commentaries are rare before this period. It is not clear, moreover, that the profound learning of these authors is representative of most vernacular literature in this period.

Questions the Symposium will tackle in particular are: were the relatively well-known modes of interpretation of sacred texts and Latin literature more generally applied to vernacular literature? How do such well-known authors as Jean de Meun or Dante fit into this picture? Given that authors and scribes were mostly bilingual in Latin and the vernacular, was there room for particular vernacular modes of interpretation, and what are the indications to this effect?







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