TitleBetween the Earthly and the Ideal
Date/TimeTuesday 5 July 2022: 14.15-15.45
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairAlexandru Simon, Centrul de Studii Transilvane, Academia Romane, Cluj-Napoca
Paper 714-a Beast Fables from the East: Narrative Similarities across Continental Boundaries
(Language: English)
Ved Prabha Sharma, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York
Index Terms: Lay Piety; Rhetoric
Paper 714-b Breaking the Sound Barrier: The Sonic Landscape of the Rothschild Canticles
(Language: English)
Helen Orchard, Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge Theological Federation
Index Terms: Art History - General; Music; Religious Life; Theology
AbstractPaper -a:
The 'literalness' that exuded from beast fables often give an impression of simplicity, which takes away the serious hermeneutic attention that beast fables deserve. Though the targeted audience of these stories were often 'simple' (vulgus) people, the narrative aim was itself challenging. The Hitopadesha and Panchtantra Katha, as well as, the beast fables used in medieval grammar schools (compiled later in Disticha Catonis) were, in fact, serving the fundamental purposes of utilitas and moralitas. They employed the use of ancient liberal arts, primarily, ars rhetorica, as aquifers that facilitated the proper percol714-cation of their non-vulgus dogmas. The paper aims to analyse the adaptation of a non-vulgus dogma to a vulgus audience, and in the process, discuss the birth of the beast literature as a 'vernacular' genre coming out of this adaptation.

Paper -b:
The Prefatory Folios of Part 1 of the Rothschild Canticles (Beinecke MS404, c.1301) suggest the form and structure of the mystical itinerary which lays ahead for the contemplative. This paper argues that musical iconography, appearing first as Musica in the Liberal Arts bifolio, is key to understanding the itinerary, and indeed to interpreting a significant number of the miniatures. The theological seam running throughout the manuscript is one of apophatic mysticism, drawing out themes of 'unseeing' and 'unsaying' in the Trinitarian sections, which culminate in the Deus absconditus. However, these miniatures are far from silent: their sonic reverberations break the sound barrier to generate new interpretations which evoke multi-layered social, communal and liturgical associations for the contemplative. This enriches the sensory impact of the manuscript during the final unitive stage, enhancing its potential for human transformation.