Medieval Forms of Argument: Disputation and Debate

Medieval Forms of Argument: Disputation and Debate



Document Type




These studies illustrate the various high and late medieval transformations of formal and formalized argument, from a broadly interdisciplinary perspective and it challenges today's dominant disciplinary approaches to what was and is still a pervasive mode of thought in the West. Many current treatments of disputational texts have a narrow focus either on the history of scholasticism, rhetoric, and pedagogy, or the genesis and function of such period-specific forms of academic altercation as demonstrative, dialectic, or sophistic disputation, or the later quaestiones, quodlibeta, and sophismata. Moreover, scholarship in literature often ignores the parallel structures of academic argument and narrowly focuses on the narrative and aesthetic functions of debate poetry. In contrast to these tendencies, the contributions to this volume afford a view which enables readers to recognize that the manifold formalized discursive practices of positing a thesis, constructing a counter antithesis, and then finding a synthesis permeated not only the cathedral schools and universities and their direct textual products (commentaries, formal disputations, sermons, and so forth), but were received by a wide range of other discursive realms. Especially in the high and late Middle Ages the academic disputation gradually moved from the isolation of the universities and toward extracurricular forms of debate between theologians (e.g., the public quaestiones disputatae; epistolary theological debates between Christians and Muslims) and in literary genres (e.g. querelle, debate poem). By confronting sample investigations from all these related forms of medieval argument, the volume examines the ways in which disputational forms - sometimes directly dependent on academic practices, sometimes showing organizational, structural, and discursive parallels - established themselves as a central mode of thinking for Western society. To achieve this goal, the volume unites contributions from the English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian traditions of the disputational mode and discusses central issues of academic, political, theological, courtly and literary debates.



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Wipf and Stock




English Language and Literature | Medieval Studies

Citation for published book

Donavin, Georgiana., Carol Poster, and Richard J. Utz. Medieval Forms of Argument : Disputation and Debate / Edited by Georgiana Donavin, Carol Poster, and Richard Utz. 2002. Print. Disputatio (Evanston, Ill.) ; v. 5.

Medieval Forms of Argument: Disputation and Debate