Textual Communities, Textual Selves: Essays in Dialogue with Brian Stock

Edited by
Sarah Powrie and Gur Zak

Papers in Mediaeval Studies 37 • xii, 272 pp. + 9 colour plates • ISBN 978-0-88844-837-8 • Cloth • $95.00

This volume assembles a collection of studies investigating ways that textual practices in the classical and medieval periods generated collective and individual expressions of identity. Engaging in dialogue with Brian Stock’s contributions to the history of literacy, the essays initiate new conversations about models of interpretation, habits of reading, textual communities, and forms of self-writing.

The first group of essays, featuring Seth Lerer, Paul Saenger, and Sarah Spence, not only reflects upon the influence of Stock’s Augustine the Reader, but also examines Augustine’s innovative handling of texts within the literary culture of Late Antiquity. The following group, authored by John Magee, Constant J. Mews, and Marcia L. Colish, responds to The Implications of Literacy by examining ways that the reinterpretation of inherited texts can generate philosophical schools, social reformists, and textual communities. Subsequent contributions by Willemien Otten and Sarah Powrie investigate textual expressions of created nature and thereby build upon the work of Myth and Science in the Twelfth Century.

The last three essays by Gur Zak, Jane Tylus, and Catherine Conybeare explore Augustine’s enduring influence beyond the medieval period, as evidenced in the writings of Giovanni Conversini, Catherine of Sienna, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. In so doing, these authors advance the frameworks of After Augustine and Listening for the Text. Personal tributes by Aviad Kleinberg and Natalie Zemon Davis bookend the volume, with each author recollecting fragments of conversations that have shaped a decades-long friendship with the honoree.


List of Plates • vii
Abbreviations • ix
Acknowledgements • xi

Sarah Powrie and Gur Zak • Introduction • 1

Aviad Kleinberg • A Life of Brian • 18
Seth Lerer • The Textualized Augustine and Late Antique Communities • 27
Paul Saenger • Augustine as Reader: Prospects for Collaboration between Palaeography and the Neurosciences • 43
Sarah Spence • Augustine, Virgil, and the Landscape of Memory • 74
John Magee • Boethius and the Legacy of Alexander of Aphrodisias: The Elementary Commentary on De interpretatione 10, 19b22–24, and Related Texts • 94
Constant J. Mews • Rereading The Twelve Abuses of the Age: From Seventh-Century Ireland to Twelfth-Century France • 117
Marcia L. Colish • Self-Baptism in the Middle Ages? • 136
Willemien Otten • Nature’s Mediation: William of Conches and Hildegard of Bingen on Creation and the Cosmos • 149
Sarah Powrie • Allegories of the Formless Self in Augustine’s Confessions and Bernardus Silvestris’s Cosmographia • 172
Gur Zak • After Petrarch: Writing and Self-Care in Giovanni Conversini’s Rationarium vite • 195
Jane Tylus • Listening for the Ending • 215
Catherine Conybeare • Augustine and Wittgenstein: The Inner Dialogue Continued • 235
Natalie Zemon Davis • A Scholarly Friendship: In Tribute to Brian Stock • 250

Publications of Brian Stock • 255

Contributors • 261
Index • 264


Sarah Powrie is Associate Professor of English at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, Canada. Interested in questions of literary reception, she has published articles on Boethius, Chaucer, Spenser, and Donne.

Gur Zak is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Head of the Institute of Literatures. He is the author of Petrarch’s Humanism and the Care of the Self (2010) and Boccaccio and the Consolation of Literature (2022). His current project deals with the implications of compassion in Italian Renaissance literature.


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