Thought laboratories : incongruence in vernacular multi-text manuscripts before 1350
- This PhD dissertation develops incongruence as a critical category for the study of multi-text manuscripts. It argues that the makers of manuscripts in French, Occitan, and Franco-Italian between ca. 1250 and 1350 deployed incongruence to create "thought laboratories, " which are spaces for readers to engage in speculative thinking on targeted questions. In line with the habits of dialectical thinking of the time, readers were encouraged to reflect on the tensions that arise from the conflicting assessments, contradicting reasonings, and discrepant values found in the contents of multi-text manuscripts. This dissertation establishes the significant role of incongruence—defined as the dissonance in theme, tone, or logic between two or more co-present texts—in the production and reading of multi-text manuscripts of vernacular literature, which make up two thirds of vernacular books in the period 1250--1350. The introduction sets up the theoretical and historical framework for the dissertation by discussing the key notions of "text, " "book, " and "practice, " which it relates to literary studies, codicology, and anthropology. It defines thought laboratories as spaces of speculative thinking provided by multi-text manuscripts, and it proposes that incongruence was mobilized by the makers of manuscripts to direct readers' attention to points of contention with which they were invited to engage. Chapter 1 discusses how the inclusion of obscene parodic stanzas in a troubadour songbook from Italy creates a dialectical relationship between lyrics presented as canonical and parodic stanzas that deride them through their obscene imitations. The incongruence of the obscene stanzas within a songbook that presents its contents as cultural capital worth preserving and emulating invites inquiry into the formation of a canon and the role of songbooks in consecrating a cultural heritage. Chapter 2 examines a North-Eastern French manuscript that creates a debate between a cleric and the woman he woos. The debate thematizes clerical learning and the role of gender in claims to knowledge and assertions of sincerity, since the validity of the debaters' claims and their motivations are constantly questioned. Through the logical setup of the ending of the debate, which is incongruous with the logic of the debate that precedes it, readers face the difficulty of having to take sides in a debate they are supposed to judge impartially. When weighing the arguments, they get to perform the interrelation of gender and knowledge that the debaters expose. Chapter 3 considers the role of irony, discrepant character assessments, the presence of prose, and that of the Roman de Renart within a collection of Arthurian verse romances from North-Eastern France. By bending the expectations strongly associated with a very codified genre, these elements cast into relief the motivations that lie behind the glorification of chivalric heroes and the presentation of an ideal political order. Because several texts in this manuscript are interrupted or end ambivalently, it allows readers to think about alternative endings to the romances it contains. Chapter 4 examines a Northern Italian compilation of prose and verse historiographical material interspersed with didactic and sapiential texts. The incongruences of fact and of assessment, the incongruous co-presence of prose and verse, and the uneasy chronological ordering of texts draw attention to misfits in this collection. Readers, who are faced with a history in pieces, can reassemble texts into a history they deem more suitable, which leads to an interrogation of what constitutes suitable history. Through attention to the strategies of compilation, textual intervention, and illumination deployed by the makers of medieval manuscripts to direct the attention of readers, this dissertation argues for an intellectually engaged and creative way of reading vernacular literature in manuscripts between 1250 and 1350.
|Type of resource
|electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
|1 online resource.
|Junge Ruhland, Johannes Michael
|Landy, Joshua, 1965-
|Landy, Joshua, 1965-
|Stanford University, School of Humanities and Sciences
|Stanford University, Department of French & Italian
|Statement of responsibility
|Johannes Michael Junge Ruhland.
|Submitted to the Department of French & Italian.
|Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.
- © 2023 by Johannes Michael Junge Ruhland
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC-ND).
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