Weekly Overview: March 29, 31 (March 29 by Kiwanee Crummey)
On Tuesday, we discussed an essay by Brian McGuire, “Purgatory, the Communion of Saints and the Medieval Change”. Jessica led the discussion. Specifically noted were the assertions made by historian Jacques Le Goff of the major shift made within Medieval society once purgatorium went from a dualistic (or 2-fold) to a tripartite (3-fold) system. This change altered the inclusivity and process by which individuals could enter into heaven. McGuire, however, refutes these claims, suggesting that Le Goff oversimplifies purgatory as well as the medieval experience. The essay goes on to demonstrate McGuire’s belief that purgatory was more about the meaning for those of medieval society, rather than the institution itself—which is exactly what Le Goff intended to demonstrate. Arguing that it is ‘pointless’ to try and define purgatory in both the historical and religious context, McGuire proceeds to examine purgatory by what it meant during the Middle Ages. We discussed McGuire’s examination of “Wakeland’s vision”, how the souls of the dead were ‘confined’ to a place, as well as how the souls were allowed to do penance. It was concluded that for McGuire, purgatory was not the center of medieval devotional orientation. Instead, people believed that souls simply wondered about, like ghosts. This belief allowed the idea of purgatory to be considered within a broader spectrum—allowing the living and dead to ‘participate’ within the community, if you will. Finally, there were various ways that the living could contribute to their own, or another’s, spiritual well-being.
We then looked at catechistic discourse in Ypotis and discussed the role of apocryphal legends in The Northern Passion (and discussed our own culture’s religious apocrypha).
Notes for Thursday, March 31 have not been submitted. We discussed Maidstone’s Seven Penitential Psalms (and their Christological orientation and contemptus mundi), the Prick of Conscience Minor and its method of preparing the individual soul for cleansing (through its presentation of the various after-death options, its dark vision of the human, and then its offering of grace and emphasis on good works, with mercy having the final word), and The Stations of Jerusalem and the ways such pilgrimages and dutiful contemplative attendance at Holy Land sites could be seen as worthy of pardons. We also discussed the ways the poem pointed toward a medieval view of the relationship between the present and the past quite different from ours.
p. 84- Monasteries ceaselessly prayed for all people to be saved from purgatory
> Insinuating that others could pray for the spiritual well-being of those dead or alive
p. 68-69- vision text were thought to offer insight into the concept of purgatory (an assertion made by McGuire)
>Augustine of Hippo
>Gregory the Great
p. 78- What is purgatory??
p. 83- Ways to consider how purgatory was perceived by those of medieval society
p. 74- ways to contribute to spiritual well-being
>Northern Passion and Ypotis
These works were considered “Apocryphal” works, non-canonical works that addressed notions of justice and grace for things in scripture that may not be supported by medieval poplar devotional belief.
Note: “Ypotis” presents despair and disbelief as two most unforgiveable sins
Key Terms: Vision text Apocryphal works purgatory
Preview of Next Week:
The coming week is a big one: We finish our readings in Codex Ashmole 61. Clearly, the semester is winding down.
The following week we will turn to a couple of canonical texts (Chaucer’s Second Nun’s Tale and Retractions) to consider alongside our extended encounter with a large number of non-canonical Middle English texts. Then, on Thursday the 14th, we will start entertaining ourselves, a celebration that will extend to Tuesday the 19th, which will be our last day of class.
There are only 3 days of class remaining, then, for which you need to prepare readings.
Mind you, a number of deadlines are coming up very soon:
Annotated Bibliography due Monday, April 11 at 8pm
Paper Proposal due a week later, Monday, April 18 at 8pm
In between the Annotated Bib and the Paper Proposal, day 1 of the Creative Project arrives on Thursday, April 14; Day 2 of Creative Projects is Tuesday, April 19 (the day after the Proposal is due)
Researched Analysis due Monday, April 25 (nearly a week after our last day of class)
Final exam on a week later, on Tuesday, May 3 at noon
Tuesday’s texts are items 35a-37: The Sinner’s Lament, The Adulterous Falmouth Squire, The Legend of the Resurrection, and Saint Margaret
As you read these four items, consider how they seem to “sit” alongside the preceding 34 texts we’ve read and discussed. Items 35b and 37 are likely to receive most in class attention (sharing as they do much with Jealous Wife and Incestuous Daughter, in the case of the Adulterous Falmouth Squire, and with Saint Eustace in the case of Saint Margaret), though I’m happy to go in different, unexpected directions should you find the other two items pushing you in that direction.
I will have a handout for the Final Exam ready for this class meeting.
Thursday’s texts are items 38-41: The Wounds and the Sins, Sir Orfeo, Vanity, and King Edward and the Hermit
With these items, we finish Ashmole 61. Orfeo is a beloved Middle English romance, a version of the Orpheus and Eurydice story familiar from Ovid but quite different in this manifestation. Pay keen attention to those elements that mark it as a different (and different kind of) narrative. Vanity is unique to Ashmole 61. Consider it alongside item 2, Ram’s Horn. Finally, King Edward is a unique text that has much to offer, related in this way to Sir Corneus and The Carpenter’s Tools. King Edward is a fun narrative, though at moments it requires some sharp attention to follow successfully.
In addition, Clifton will take us through Nicola McDonald’s “Polemical Introduction” to Pulp Fictions on Thursday.