Glosynge is a Glorious Thyng: Medieval Studies and the Future of Commentary
In The Powers of Philology, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht describes the situation in which a return to commentary is becoming inevitable: “The vision of the empty chip constitutes a threat, a veritable horror vacui not only for the electronic media industry but also, I suppose, for our intellectual and cultural self-appreciation. It might promote, once again, a reappreciation of the principle and substance of copia. And it might bring about a situation in which we will no longer be embarrassed to admit that filling up margins is what commentaries mostly do—and what they do best” (53). As interlocutors with a period when commentary was a, if not the, central mode of authorship (cf. Bonaventure’s four ways of making a book), medievalists are in a special position to shape the future of commentary. And there is much recent work which indicates we are doing so. Yet the commentary genre remains, like a popolo minuto of the academic city-state, a subordinate category: useful, essential, but excluded from the spaces of governance and authority. What can/should the commentary become and how might medievalists shape its becoming? What is commentary’s unrealized intellectual and creative potential? How will a return to commentary, as a recentering of the marginal, structure the way scholars and students experience, understand, and work within the world?
Please Email paper proposals to Nicola Masciandaro (email@example.com) by September 1, 2008.
Sponsor: The Medieval Club of New York
Nota Bene: this session is similar to but not the same as the conference "Glossing is a Glorious Thing" (see http://glossator.org) taking place in April at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Dept of English
The City University of New York
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