Notes: week 4




  • The Romance of the Rose and its structure (spoiler: it’s a rose) and outer frame:
    • A unified and universal grammar of love
    • Or, what’s next after an arts education and how is it liberal or liberating?
  • Grammar in/of the Rose:
  • Reading: Reason and Fortune (Roman de la Rose 46-48, 64-110):
  • Topic (Tuesday-Thursday): Perfect harmony and marvellous mystical marriages (2): the marvellous
    • Creative hybridity, monsters, conversion, compilation, confluence:
      —In an alien universe that is a different—in culture, mentality, perception, outlook—as any other strange other place, time, or world in which you/we are newcomer outsiders;
      —like encountering and exploring any other imaginary world, including 20th-21st c. speculative fiction: games, science-fiction films & TV, graphic novels, CosPlay
      —yet a world that’s as fundamentally human, curious, questing for understanding, loving a good story, and with the other usual appetites
    • Ideas of translatio :
      —”Translation” in narrow and broad senses & translatio studii et imperii
      —See also: O’Brien field-trip slides from week 2, shown in week 3 Thursday class
    • Books, form, genre, literariness:
      —A literary history and aethetics that isn’t just one of tidy works and genres (individual independent free-standing works, short lyric poem, short story, novel, comedy, tragedy)
      —A literary world of inter-textual cross-reference in which every book is also part of a larger whole; think libraries and labyrinths, networked systems and ecosystems
      —And hybrid works that don’t look like our 2016 expected categorisations of different kinds of writing
      —Ex. short stories collected within what looks like a non-fiction treatise, a long narrative that looks like a proto-novel but is in verse and seems to have no plot, a work that is itself a compilation or collection (parallel: many of the books that contained some Martianus Capella; libraries containing many books; Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose; Jorge Luis Borges, Fictions)
    • Romance as a hybrid monstrous marvellous form of literature:
      —Remember the symbolism of Philology and Mercury, the role of the latter as representing transmission and interpretation, leading to meaning: but neither of the two individuals in that couple is meaning itself—full sense, complete knowledge—which is over to readers and their reading work. That is one possible explanation (there are others) for their Marriage looking like it lacks an ending…
      —Examples of precursor hybrids in form and content: Ovid Heroides, Apuleius Golden Ass / Metamorphoses, the prosimetrum ex. Boethius Consolation of Philosophy, Bernardus Silvestris Cosmographia, the letters of Abelard & Héloise, Andreas Capellanus On Love, French (and other later) romance (= translation again, including the linguistic one of reworking & transforming Latin material into a Romance-language-group vernacular)
      —See also: mini-Wikipedia “Who’s Who in this Weird and Wonderful World
    • Marvellousness and the dream-vision:
      —Examples from the contemporary cultural context (and earlier and later, depending on what comes to student minds)
      —Example in the Rose: Croesus and Phania; Cicero and Macrobius; more in week 7 (arithmetic & the mid-point of the course)


  • Presentation: GRAMMAR
  • Slow-motion video of a rose blooming, with (in)appropriate sound-track
  • labyrinths: ex. Chartres Cathedral floor
  • labyrinths vs gardens of forking paths: adventures, pilgrimages, making sense of a world (including having choices and making decisions), reading
  • labyrinths and the tragic story of an innocent monster: the Minotaur
  • Further close-reading of at least one passage from this week’s reading: you may nominate a passage on which you’d like to have more gloss & commentary, add a comment on the weekly blog post before 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday …
Hellmouth: "Winchester Psalter," British Library Cotton Nero C IV

Medieval textuality, imagination, and the multiverse:
above, not “our” Romance of the Rose but how it might have been in an alternate dream-reality
(or, hypothetically, an alternative version in yet another lost manuscript that is yet to be found)
“Winchester Psalter,” British Library Cotton MS Nero C IV