IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 1728: The Future of the Middle Ages

Thursday 12 July 2012, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Paul B. Sturtevant, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Paper 1728-aThe Medieval Origins of Our Ecological Crisis
(Language: English)
David John Hawkin, Department of Religious Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Index terms: Philosophy, Theology
Paper 1728-b'Wallowing in Transgression'?: Medieval Linguistic Evidence and the Lessons for Modern Scholarship
(Language: English)
Sarah McLoughlin, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York
Index terms: Gender Studies, Historiography - Modern Scholarship, Language and Literature - Middle English, Mentalities

Paper -a:
The medieval historian Lynn White is well known for his claim that our present ecological crisis has its origins in the medieval period. He argued that the anthropocentric nature of Christianity was especially emphasized in the medieval period and this developed into the exploitative attitude to nature which dominates the modern world view. I shall argue, however, that a more convincing argument comes from Hans Blumenberg, who has shown that the trajectory that creates modernity and its ecological crisis does indeed begin in the medieval period, but it is rooted more in Gnosticism than it is in Christianity.

Paper -b:
In Against Transgression (2008), Ashley Tauchert claimed that critical thought was in danger of ‘wallowing in transgression’. This paper confronts that criticism and traces the development of ‘transgression’ as a critical concept within the conditions of late 20th century academic culture. Does the modernity of the concept make using it anachronistic for the medievalist? I confront this question through a discussion of how the word ‘transgressioun’ and its Latin and Anglo-Norman antecedents were used in late medieval England. This paper addresses to what extent the late medieval ideological apparatus about rules and rule-breaking resembled and differed from our own.