IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 731: Vernacular Theology and Middle English Literature

Tuesday 10 July 2012, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Mishtooni Carys Anne Bose, Christ Church College, University of Oxford
Paper 731-aJudas Iscariot and 'Following the Rules' in Medieval England
(Language: English)
Britt Mize, Department of English, Texas A&M University, College Station
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Religious Life
Paper 731-bAugustine's Theory of Illumination and the Middle English Pearl
(Language: English)
Piotr Spyra, Department of Studies in Drama & Pre-1800 English Literature, University of Łódź
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Philosophy, Theology
Paper 731-cTo Be Good to Die Well, or the Apology of the Suffering
(Language: English)
Blanca Ángeles López, Centre d'Études Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale (CESCM), Université de Poitiers
Index terms: Daily Life, Literacy and Orality, Mentalities

Paper -a:
My book-in-progress suggests that there are three distinct facets to late medieval treatments of Judas: the legendary, the penitential, and the exemplary. This paper briefly defines these three dimensions along which medieval conceptions of Judas’s character can be plotted, and shows that underlying all three is some very dynamic and evolving thought about this notorious figure’s relationship to ‘the rules’. I argue that through interactions of the legendary, penitential, and exemplary Judas in particular intellectual contexts, the betrayer of Christ became a surprisingly sensitive heuristic instrument for contemplation of, and teaching about, individual behavior in relation to moral and institutional demands.

Paper -b:
The debate that constitutes the bulk of the Middle English Pearl has often been interpreted as a vivid testimony to man’s epistemological disjunction from God. Although the way the dream vision ends seems to preclude any substantial progress having been made in the Dreamer’s understanding, the poem’s final stanzas subvert this by introducing an ostensible change in the narrator’s attitude towards his tragic loss. This paper attempts to reconcile the apparent contradiction by offering a reading that outlines the poem’s indebtedness to Augustine’s theory of illumination. The abundance of references to Christ in the poem’s final section and their character will be posited as a manifestation of the enlightening grace bestowed by Christ the Internal Teacher.

Paper -c:
This paper has the purpose to show how the suffering in fifteenth century vernacular literature was important for the religious thought and satisfaction of sins. During the Middle Ages, body’s suffering was, among other aspects, a way of purification of the soul. This creed was inspired from the penuries that the Christ had to last all over the Passion. His example was mainly taken at the end of the Middle Ages where the plagues, famine, and diseases were the primary reason of mortality in Europe. As a result of this social and health phenomenon, the fear of death increased at the same time of the feeling to die in sin. To relieve this fear, there were created treatises in order to teach people how to die well. Such is the example of the English The Book of the Craft of Dying or Doctrynalle of the Dethe, best known in its short version as Ars Moriendi. In those texts the model to have a good death is the death of Christ himself. The moribund or morens is not only submitted to the corporal pain, but also he has to suffer spiritually the different temptations that the evil will whisper him in his ear to get hold of his soul.