Session Title

Catalogus Verborum: Catalog, List, and the Spilling-Over of Learning

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Yun Ni

Organizer Affiliation

Harvard Univ.

Presider Name

Monika Otter

Presider Affiliation

Dartmouth College

Paper Title 1

"All creatures would flow apart like water": Cosmological Learning as Copia in the Old English Boethius

Presenter 1 Name

Albert Joseph McMullen

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Harvard Univ.

Paper Title 2

Will and Ekphrasis in Byzantine Mystical Discourse

Presenter 2 Name

Henry M. Bowles

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Harvard Univ.

Paper Title 3

Rethinking Form and Matter in Alan de Lille's Catalogus Verborum of Anticlaudianus

Presenter 3 Name

Yun Ni

Start Date

15-5-2015 10:00 AM

Session Location

Fetzer 2040

Description

The Catalogues of the epic heroes, the topographical details of Greco-Roman landscapes and the mythological references to constellations (the human, the earth and the heaven all included) are widely used as formulaic expressions among the classical authors. This rhetorical tour de force is ubiquitous in various genres from the epics/historical records to the lyrics/choral songs in tragedies. In the Middle Ages, both the vernacular and the Latin authors inherit this writing habit. Allan de Lille, for instance, presents an exhaustive description of the constellations upon Lady Nature's robe. The Arthurian romances written in the vernacular inevitably allude to the Homeric catalogue of epic heroes. What is lying behind this impulse to display the weighty learning that might be overwhelming or even boring to the audience? How to make sense out of them? Is there anything beyond a mere show-off of learning?

To present a catalogue is to impose an order, extending from the socio-political to the cosmic. Different symbolic fabric strings together different threads of catalogues. The evolvement of the catalogues, in turn, answers to the changing governing principle of the universe, which is to be renegotiated and historicized over time. The limit of the list is constantly tested. Spilling-over and boundary-crossing might be an interesting perspective to examine the catalogues. I am welcoming papers dealing with literary, philological, philosophical, theological and socio-political aspects of “catalogus,” especially papers that reflect upon the narrative/poetic forms and the social/cosmic norms in a way related to the notion of the self.

Yun Ni

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May 15th, 10:00 AM

Catalogus Verborum: Catalog, List, and the Spilling-Over of Learning

Fetzer 2040

The Catalogues of the epic heroes, the topographical details of Greco-Roman landscapes and the mythological references to constellations (the human, the earth and the heaven all included) are widely used as formulaic expressions among the classical authors. This rhetorical tour de force is ubiquitous in various genres from the epics/historical records to the lyrics/choral songs in tragedies. In the Middle Ages, both the vernacular and the Latin authors inherit this writing habit. Allan de Lille, for instance, presents an exhaustive description of the constellations upon Lady Nature's robe. The Arthurian romances written in the vernacular inevitably allude to the Homeric catalogue of epic heroes. What is lying behind this impulse to display the weighty learning that might be overwhelming or even boring to the audience? How to make sense out of them? Is there anything beyond a mere show-off of learning?

To present a catalogue is to impose an order, extending from the socio-political to the cosmic. Different symbolic fabric strings together different threads of catalogues. The evolvement of the catalogues, in turn, answers to the changing governing principle of the universe, which is to be renegotiated and historicized over time. The limit of the list is constantly tested. Spilling-over and boundary-crossing might be an interesting perspective to examine the catalogues. I am welcoming papers dealing with literary, philological, philosophical, theological and socio-political aspects of “catalogus,” especially papers that reflect upon the narrative/poetic forms and the social/cosmic norms in a way related to the notion of the self.

Yun Ni