On the Shoulders of Giants: Essays in Honor of Glenn W. Olsen

Edited by
David F. Appleby and Teresa Olsen Pierre

Papers in Mediaeval Studies 27. xii, 262 pp. 2015. ISBN 978-0-88844-827-9 • Cloth • $90

The allusion in the title to the dwarf on the shoulders of the giant underscores the central themes of this collection: the debt each generation owes to the intellectual achievements of those that precede it, the continuous interpenetration between the present and the past, and the place of tradition as well as change and renewal in culture and history. The topos is particularly apt for this volume, for it allows students and colleagues to express their own distinctive debts to Glenn W. Olsen, a formidable scholar, respected advisor, and cherished friend.

Medieval in focus but also of broader chronological range, the essays in the volume encompass such diverse topics as the body, identity, and sexuality, the discourses of colonialism and narratives of history, as well as the conflict between an idealized primitive past and the progression towards a redeemed future. The first section examines the persistence of the authority of the past in the thought and language of authors who understood their circumstances primarily by reference to the past, even as they moved inexorably into the future. Processes of change and growth through the clash between novelty and tradition, and the conflicting standards and competing norms such conflict produces, form a central preoccupation of the essays in the second part. Together, they reveal how renewal through the use of traditional ancient sources sometimes impelled both intellectual thought and institutions in unforeseeable and sometimes unwelcome directions. A third group of essays centres on the concepts of Christian renewal and reform, both individual and collective, in the ascetic and monastic contexts but also in popular piety, as well as the medieval perspectives on the body, gender, marriage, and sexuality. Part four surveys the rejection of tradition and the inescapability of the past in any endeavour to transcend it.

Like the essays collected here, which explore the theme of how one generation understands itself in relation to the past as it moves into the future, we hope this volume will be used as a starting point for future generations of scholars seeking to plumb the depths of the past as they chart their own ways forward.


Abbreviations • vii
Preface • ix
Introduction • 1

Part One: The Authority of the Past
Carol Neel • Mother, Father, King: Dhuoda and Carolingian Patriarchy • 23
James Muldoon • Stages of Political Development: Twelfth-Century Ireland as Ninth-Century England • 40
Bernard F. Reilly • Context and Process in the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris: The Latin Historian’s Art in the Iberian High Middle Ages • 56

Part Two: Change and Growth
Paul Edward Dutton • The Testing of Einhard’s Religious Authority • 75
Martha Rampton • Love and the Divorce of Lothar II • 91
James A. Brundage • Ius fori and Ius poli: The Juridification of Classical Canon Law • 116

Part Three: Renewal and Reform
Giles Constable • Spiritual Emptiness and Ascetic Exile in the Middle Ages • 135
David F. Appleby and Teresa Olsen Pierre • Upright Posture and Human Dignity According to Bernard of Clairvaux • 159
Alberto Ferreiro • “A Little More than the Angels”: Anthropology and the Imitatio Christi in a Catalan Sermon by Vicent Ferrer on Saint James the Greater • 179

Part Four: Rejection of Tradition
Frank J. Coppa • The Contessa di Castiglione: Patriot or Prostitute? • 211

Glenn W. Olsen: A Bibliography • 224
Contributors • 247
Tabula Gratulatoria • 251
Index of Scriptural Citations • 252
General Index • 254


David F. Appleby, Tutor at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, is a scholar of medieval monasticism and spirituality. His articles have appeared in a number of journals, including American Benedictine Review (1995), Mediaeval Studies (1998), Fides Quaerens Intellectum (2003), Traditio (2005), and The St. John’s Review (2013). He is also the author of a chapter on the history of the body and the role of imagination in spiritual life in Word, Image, Number: Communication in the Middle Ages, ed. John J. Contreni and Santa Casciani (2002).

Teresa Olsen Pierre, an independent scholar residing in Toronto, studies marriage and the history of the body. Her essay, “Marriage, Body and Sacrament in the Age of Hugh of St. Victor,” appeared in Christian Marriage: A Historical Study, ed. Glenn W. Olsen (2001).


“In On the Shoulders of Giants students and friends of Glenn W. Olsen seek to honor the breadth of his interests and the depth of his enthusiasms by offering their own studies. The title invokes the proverbial dwarf whose elevation expands his perspective. Here he sees broad horizons where change over time is conceptualized as reform, both backward looking and forward looking, binding past and present but never completely succeeding in making reality conform to ideals. To commemorate Olsen’s interests in canon law, reform, and the history of the body and sexuality, the contributors focus on the authority of the past, change and growth, renewal and reform. The essays demonstrate everywhere the informing presence of the teacher and scholar they honor. They explore a range of topics, spanning late antiquity and the Latin Middle Ages but also stretching to nineteenth-century Italy, are deeply grounded in evidence, and should make the honorand proud.”

John HoweTexas Tech University


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