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Introduction

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Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

If you have seen the mosaics of Antioch, you know of their intricate beauty: the majesty of the Striding Lion, the brilliance of Oceanus. Elaborate borders and detailed figures are fashioned from collected fragments of rock and glass. Like mosaics formed of pebbles and glass, medieval memory networks were constructed with readily available materials—cultural commonplaces, tropes, examples, scriptures, and authorities. For the western European Middle Ages, memory networks informed the production of texts, communities, and personal identities. While each text, person, and community was distinct, the materials used to construct them were picked up from the past. Combined together, these inherited fragments of memory were reconfigured to the purposes of particular people, places, and cultures, even as the pieces themselves remained individually discernable. Thus, each new creation was concretely built with shards of the past, selected and reorganized yet still recognizable to all who shared the common cultural traditions of Western medieval Christianity.

Keywords

Communal Identity Memory Network Female Author Medieval Literature Pagan Site 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Mary J. Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture, 2nd ed., Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature 70 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 240–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Mary J. Carruthers, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400–1200, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature 34 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 15.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    As Patrick Geary has explained, even though most medieval people were illiterate, books were still central to the culture. Patrick Geary, Phantoms of Remembrance: Memory and Oblivion at the End of the First Millenium (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 135. In this volume, we understand “reading” to be contact with and consumption of texts, whether that consumption takes place visually (by physically looking at words on a page) or aurally (by listening to a text read or repeated).Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    For an introduction to the rich medieval tradition of reading the Fourth Eclogue as a prophecy of Christ’s birth, see Stephen Benko, “Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue in Christian Interpretation,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, 2nd ser., 31, no. 1 (1980): 646–705.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), 53, 60–61, 76–77.Google Scholar
  6. 20.
    Catherine Cubitt, “Memory and Narrative in the Cult of Early Anglo-Saxon Saints,” in The Uses of the Past in the Early Middle Ages, ed. Yitzhak Hen and Matthew Innes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 31.Google Scholar
  7. 22.
    Karl D. Uitti, Story, Myth, and Celebration in Old French Narrative Poetry, 1050 –1200 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973), 26, quoted in Barbara Zimbalist, “Imitating the Imagined: Clemence of Barking’s Life of St. Catherine,” chapter 5 in this volume.Google Scholar
  8. 24.
    Denise L. Despres, “The Meditative Art of Scriptural Interpolation in The Book of Margery Kempe,” Downside Review 106 (October 1988): 258 [253–263].Google Scholar
  9. 25.
    Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe: A New Translation, Contexts, Criticism, trans. and ed. Lynn Staley (New York: Norton, 2001), 15, 16, 50.Google Scholar

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© Margaret Cotter-Lynch and Brad Herzog 2012

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