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Medieval Crossover: Reading the Secular against the Sacred
     

Medieval Crossover: Reading the Secular against the Sacred

by Barbara Newman
 

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In Medieval Crossover: Reading the Secular against the Sacred, Barbara Newman offers a new approach to the many ways that sacred and secular interact in medieval literature, arguing that the sacred was the normative, unmarked default category against which the secular always had to define itself and establish its niche. Newman refers to this dialectical

Overview

In Medieval Crossover: Reading the Secular against the Sacred, Barbara Newman offers a new approach to the many ways that sacred and secular interact in medieval literature, arguing that the sacred was the normative, unmarked default category against which the secular always had to define itself and establish its niche. Newman refers to this dialectical relationship as "crossover"-which is not a genre in itself, but a mode of interaction, an openness to the meeting or even merger of sacred and secular in a wide variety of forms. Newman sketches a few of the principles that shape their interaction: the hermeneutics of "both/and," the principle of double judgment, the confluence of pagan material and Christian meaning in Arthurian romance, the rule of convergent idealism in hagiographic romance, and the double-edged sword in parody. Medieval Crossover explores a wealth of case studies in French, English, and Latin texts that concentrate on instances of paradox, collision, and convergence. Newman convincingly and with great clarity demonstrates the widespread applicability of the crossover concept as an analytical tool, examining some very disparate works.

Editorial Reviews

CHOICE
“A fascinating work that offers a novel approach to medieval literature. . . .  The depth of Newman’s scholarship and her engaging style strongly support her powerful, invigorating claims about medieval literature.” —Choice, vol. 51, no. 6 (Feb. 2014)
Library Journal
Prolific medievalist Newman (English, religious studies, Northwestern Univ.) argues that though the sacred was the default perspective in medieval thinking, the sacred did not exclude the secular: there was ample creative room to blend the two perspectives. In a series of tightly argued studies, she examines writings in French (and Picard), English, and Latin to show how medieval writers played with sacred images to create a variety of new tropes. Among the devices used to double-read texts were the hermeneutics of "both/and" (thus Galahad was both saint and sinner), the mingling of pagan and Christian meaning, saintly romance, and parody. The book ends with translations of two little-known late 14th-century to early 15th-century texts. VERDICT A textual study at its best, Newman's work attempts to set the field back on track after years of debate over how to read a medieval text and whether medieval writers used the holy texts literally or could deploy them creatively at times. This book will prove indispensable for scholars but is unlikely to attract other readers.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780268036119
Publisher:
University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date:
05/15/2013
Series:
ND Conway Lectures in Medieval Studies Series
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
392
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

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Meet the Author

Barbara Newman is professor of English, religious studies, and classics at Northwestern University. She is the author of a number of books, including God and the Goddesses: Vision, Poetry, and Belief in the Middle Ages and Frauenlob's Song of Songs: A Medieval German Poet and His Masterpiece.

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