Nature, Virtue, and the Boundaries of Encyclopedic Knowledge: The Tropological Universe of Alexander Neckam (1157-1217)
Can – and should – an encyclopedia be a repository of all knowledge? Does the idea of total encyclopedic knowledge constitute a boon for readers, or is it a labyrinthine nightmare? This book explores the pleasures and paradoxes of encyclopedism, viewed through the interpretative lenses of the works of Alexander Neckam (1157-1217), an English Augustinian canon and scholar. Neckam wrote not just one but two encyclopedias: the prose De naturis rerum (‘On the natures of things’) and the verse Laus sapientie divine (‘Praise of divine wisdom’). Poised between the end of the ‘renaissance’ of the twelfth century and the scholasticism-inspired thirteenth century, Neckam invites us into an unfamiliar universe in which encyclopedias are intentionally incomplete, and in which warnings about the vanity of knowledge coexist with vivid descriptions of new technological inventions. This strange union is facilitated by the exegetical method of tropology or moral reading. Through analogy, vivid imagery, and constant recourse to ethics, Neckam’s encyclopedias aim to educate their readers until they leave the text behind and engage in a reading of the world in a quest for knowledge, experiencing not only its pleasure and beauty, but also its inherent power.
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Find our weekly seminar program online
Join us for a great program of weekly seminars and discussions, curated by our postgraduate committee.
Looking back on ‘Policing the Margins’
MA candidate Hannah Skipworth reflects on the recent 3rd annual Monash CMRS Symposium, ‘Policing the Margins’.
Policing the Margins: 3rd Annual CMRS Symposium
Registration is now open for the 3rd annual Monash Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies symposium, Friday 28 April.
Seminar program now online
The Medieval & Renaissance seminar program is now available for semester 1, 2017. For full details follow the link.
Constant Mews Honoured at ANZAMEMS
The biennial conference of ANZAMEMS, held in Wellington in 2017, saw a series of sessions dedicated to celebrating the career and many research interests of Professor Constant Mews.
Reflecting on Florence
Student, Kate Mani, reflects on her experience of studying The Renaissance in Florence at Prato.
Recent work: Crusading memories
A new volume of essays on memory, remembering and crusade edited by Associate Professor Megan Cassidy-Welch is now available from Routledge.
CFP for Leeds 2017: Medical Understandings of Body & Soul
Join the CMRS and collaborators at Leeds, 2017, for a fascinating panel on medical discourse, otherness … Continue reading CFP for Leeds 2017: Medical Understandings of Body & Soul
Jo-Ann Duggan Prize 2017: Call for Submissions
To honour the creative, artistic and scholarly legacy of the late Jo-Anne Duggan, the Australasian Centre … Continue reading Jo-Ann Duggan Prize 2017: Call for Submissions
Cassamarca Foundation scholarships $6,000: Closing date – 14 October 2016
‘The Australasian Centre for Italian Studies (ACIS), supported by the Cassamarca Foundation (Treviso), is offering UP TO THREE scholarships … Continue reading Cassamarca Foundation scholarships $6,000: Closing date – 14 October 2016
Medieval Islamic Mysticism Expert Joins Staff
The Centre for Religious Studies welcomes a new Lecturer in semester 2, who brings new expertise … Continue reading Medieval Islamic Mysticism Expert Joins Staff
Medieval Expo goes from strength to strength
For the second year running, first year history students in Medieval Europe have worked in teams to produce public history projects that communicate about the medieval past to a wide audience