Daisy Delogu, How to Read "contraires choses": Encounters with the Roman de la Rose

Guillaume de Lorris, Cy est le Rommant de la roze, 1531. Newberry Wing folio ZP 539 .C837.
Guillaume de Lorris, Cy est le Rommant de la roze, 1531. Newberry Wing folio ZP 539 .C837.
Center for Renaissance Studies Programs
Renaissance Graduate Programs
Graduate Seminar
Thursday, September 25, 2014 to Thursday, December 4, 2014

2 to 5 pm, ten Thursdays (class will not meet on Thanksgiving)

Full; sign up for wait list

Room B-91

Led by Daisy Delogu, University of Chicago

The mid-thirteenth-century Roman de la Rose was arguably the single most influential vernacular text of the (French) Middle Ages. A sprawling, encyclopedic summa composed by two separate authors writing some forty years apart, whether taken as a source of inspiration or an object of condemnation, the Roman de la Rose became an obligatory point of reference for generations of authors.

This seminar will initiate participants into the complex allegorical narrative of the Roman de la Rose. Through discussion of topically organized scholarship on the Rose and its historical ambient the seminar will provide the historical and historiographical orientation required for sophisticated interpretation of the work. It also will provide a setting for discussion and debate that draws from the disciplinary perspectives and skills of seminar participants and works toward a more integrated and mutually engaging conversation about how we can work to “see” the Rose collaboratively.

Over the course of quarter we will read the conjoined text, focusing our discussions on a series of key textual episodes that illuminate the poetic, moral, and ontological ambitions and accomplishments of each of the Rose’s authors. In tandem with this close reading of the poem, students will be asked to acquire an historicist understanding of how the Rose was transmitted to its medieval readers by means of manuscript production, illumination, and late medieval practices of reading and viewing. In this respect, seminar topics are designed to begin with the historical object (the text and its manuscripts) and to move outward to broader interpretive issues engaged by the poem and its images (for example, late medieval theories of vision and optics, textual and visual personification, thirteenth- and fourteenth-century debates about true and false appearances).

In many respects, medieval readers were far more “interdisciplinary” than we are today. Medieval illuminations were rarely mere illustrations, subservient to the texts they accompanied. On the contrary, medieval images often played an active, hermeneutic role in the complex intellectual and interpretive processes that characterize late medieval reception. Late medieval reading and viewing practices responded to an array of factors, both conceptual and material: the genres and ordering of texts assembled in a given codex; the layout of the text on the page; the number, placement, and choice of scenes to be given visual form. Modern critical editions strip away the very features that render each manuscript instantiation of a text unique; fixing and isolating the text, they ultimately impoverish it.

By studying both the text of the Rose and its manuscript contexts, this seminar will provide the participants with the integrative reading experience envisioned and enjoyed by the work’s original audience, and will give them new insight into the ways in which text and image collaborate to shape thought, memory, and interpretation.

Prerequisite: ability to read modern French; ability to read Old French helpful but not required.

Learn more about the instructor: Daisy Delogu, University of Chicago

Download a printable PDF flyer.

Students may take this seminar on a not-for-credit basis or arrange to earn credit at their home campuses. When space permits, consortium faculty members are encouraged to audit Newberry seminars, and graduate students from non-consortium schools may also enroll.

Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.

Cost and registration information: 

Enrollment is limited, with priority to students from Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions, in accordance with the consortium agreement. The course fee is waived for consortium students.

The seminar is currently full; we are accepting applications for the wait list. Apply online here.

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