Schoolmen Scholarship Essays

The Centre for Medieval Studies would like to highlight the publication of From Learning to Love: Schools, Law, and Pastoral Care in the Middle Ages. Essays in Honour of Joseph W. Goering, edited by Tristan Sharp with Isabelle Cochelin, Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Abigail Firey, and Giulio Silano. (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies Press, 2017).

More information can be found on the publisher’s website.

Those familiar with the research and teaching of Professor Joseph Ward Goering, whom this volume honours, are aware of the breadth and depth of his scholarship. His studies have plumbed canon law, theology, romance, and art. Throughout his career, he has shown how crossing these areas of both speculative and practical knowledge is essential to our understanding of the medieval Church. He has quietly but tirelessly argued that the intellectual work of the medieval schools was sophisticated, nuanced, and filled with lively debate; that the disciplines of law and theology had numerous intersections; that popular piety was rich in surprising narratives and imagery; that clergy and laity operated in concert as much as in conflict; and perhaps most importantly, that the intentions to press the boundaries of learning, to deepen faith, and to share the wonders of human creativity were as alive in the later Middle Ages as in any other age. Each of the thirty-five studies in this volume adds tesserae to the mosaic Joe has outlined.Contributions come from intellectual and social history, law, theology and religious studies, philosophy, literary studies, and musicology. The first part concentrates especially on the work of the medieval schoolmen. The second traces the impact of advanced education on judges, administrators, and clergy who strove to apply their learning within their orbit of influence or power. The third reveals ways in which the work of the schoolmen and pastors was poured into stories, traditions, and extra-curricular knowledge that in turn shaped the culture inhabited by masters. Joe has encouraged us all to consider the ways in which medieval education and pastoral care touched everything else; the present volume shows how right he was.

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Traditional narratives of the period leading up to the Civil War are invariably framed in geographical terms. The sectional descriptors of the North, South, and West, like the wartime categories of Union, Confederacy, and border states, mean little without reference to a map of the United States. In Abolitionist Geographies, Martha Schoolman contends that antislavery writers consistently refused those standard terms.

Through the idiom Schoolman names “abolitionist geography,” these writers instead expressed their dissenting views about the westward extension of slavery, the intensification of the internal slave trade, and the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law by appealing to other anachronistic, partial, or entirely fictional north–south and east–west axes. Abolitionism’s West, for instance, rarely reached beyond the Mississippi River, but its East looked to Britain for ideological inspiration, its North habitually traversed the Canadian border, and its South often spanned the geopolitical divide between the United States and the British Caribbean.

Schoolman traces this geography of dissent through the work of Martin Delany, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Wells Brown, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among others. Her book explores new relationships between New England transcendentalism and the British West Indies; African-American cosmopolitanism, Britain, and Haiti; sentimental fiction, Ohio, and Liberia; John Brown’s Appalachia and circum-Caribbean marronage. These connections allow us to clearly see for the first time abolitionist literature’s explicit and intentional investment in geography as an idiom of political critique, by turns liberal and radical, practical and utopian.

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