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Medieval Conflicts and Contrasts: Metaphors

Class at Faculty of Arts |


The seminar is the sixth of six-semester long guest lecture series in medieval studies focused on medieval conceptual and social conflicts and contrasts. The winter semester of 2018/2019 is focused on various aspects of metaphors and figurative thought as well as language. The course is aimed at PhD students and advanced MA students but anyone interested in, or working on, any aspect of medieval studies is most cordially welcome.

WT 2018/19: Wednesday, 17.30 – 19, Room 104


Medieval Conflicts and Contrasts: Metaphors (ZS 2018–2019) 3.10.

Katrin Kogman-Appel (University of Münster):

Jewish Metaphors of Political Power: Ruler Portraits in the Catalan Mappamundi (Majorca, c. 1375) 10.10.

Carmen Cardelle de Hartmann (University of Zurich):

Ambiguous words, prophetic deeds: Augustine on figurative language 17.10.

Kati Ihnat (Univertsity of Nijmegen)

Martyrdom and metaphor: Saints as Christian symbols in medieval Iberia 24.10.

Elizabeth Archibald (University of Durham)

Bathing as metaphor in medieval literature 31.10.

Zoltán Kövecses (Eötvös Loránd University Budapest)

Issues in the diachronic study of metaphors 7.11.

Kathryn Allan (University College London):

Borrowing metaphor in early English: new forms, new metaphors? 14.11.

Krzysztof Nowak (Lexicon Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis PolonorumInstitute of Polish Language, Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow):

FOOD, MEMORY, and TIME in the Middle Ages. Towards corpus study of Medieval Latin metaphors 21.11.

Sakari Katajamäki (Finnish Literature Society, Helsinki):

Tigerlillia Terribilis, and other concretised metaphors in nonsense literature 28.11.

Philip Polcar (University of Víenna):

Jerome’s use of metaphors in his letters 5.12.

Ryan Szpiech (University of Michigan)

Conversion as Figure and Event 12.12.

Marek Thue Kretschmer University of (Trondheim):

Myth and Metaphor in the Medieval Commentary Tradition 19.12.

Christiania Whitehead (University of Warwick):

Biblical allegories of space and object in scholastic and devotional exposition

Abstracts: 3/10: Jewish Metaphors of Political Power: Ruler Portraits in the Catalan Mappamundi (Majorca, c. 1375)

The richly illustrated Catalan Mappamundi is among the most celebrated medieval maps surviving to this day. Commissioned by Peter IV of Aragon as a gift to Charles V of France it was put to parchment by Elisha Cresques, a Jewish scribe, illuminator, and cartographer in the City of Majorca. The talk explores how Elisha, from his delicate position as a Sefardi intellectual in the service of the Court coped with his patron’s agendas while, at the same time, voiced his own views of the politics of his time. 10/10: Ambiguous words, prophetic deeds: Augustine on figurative language

Augustine discusses figurative language as a main component of biblical obscurity. His aim is to discern the reason why figurative language is obscure as well as its function in the Bible and thus in the economy of salvation. He examines these questions in detail in De doctrina christiana and gets back to them once and again in his later works, adding an interesting question: Why is figurative language pleasant? 17/10: Martyrdom and metaphor: Saints as Christian symbols in medieval Iberia

What role does martyrdom have in the cult of the martyr saint? Does it serve as inspiration for ordinary Christians, or does it mark the martyr out as inherently different, and therefore a worthy intercessor for his/her earthly followers? This paper will explore the potential meanings attributed to martyrdom in the ritual devotion to martyr saints in medieval Iberia, where such local figures held a crucial place in devotional culture since late antiquity. It will additionally try to address the legacy of such devotion for the ninth-century Christians who took the same route under Muslim rule, voluntarily presenting themselves for execution in the single largest act of 'mass martyrdom' in the medieval West. Understanding their wider devotional culture reveals new insights into this martyr movement, its models and expectations, within a wider culture of martyrdom in Iberia. 24/10 Bathing as metaphor in medieval literature

Bathing was a very popular practice in later medieval Europe, both public and private. In romance baths can restore both physical and mental health, and can mark re-entry into courtly society. Bathing is often associated with love and illicit sex, for instance in fabliaux, but can also be used in religious writing to refer not only to baptism but also to martyrdom. In this talk I shall consider metaphorical uses ranging from saints’ lives to the Roman de la Rose, including Chaucer’s fondness for the phrase ‘baths of bliss’. 31/10 Issues in the diachronic study of metaphors

In the talk, I will be concerned with three issues that all have to do conceptual metaphors from a diachronic perspective. Two of the issues will be responses to certain criticisms of conceptual metaphor theory (CMT) and one involves a recent suggestion concerning the role of CMT in understanding the historical development of a language’s lexicon.

First, in a 1995 article Geeraerts and Grondelaers take issue with Lakoff and Kövecses’ (1987) description of anger metaphors, arguing that they ignore the importance of culture in influencing the establishment of anger metaphors. This observation gives us our first general issue: What is the role of physiology and culture, respectively, in the metaphor creation process?

Second, there is a great deal of evidence in the literature that metaphors for particular target concept do change through time. This goes against the CMT idea of the embodied nature of metaphor: If conceptual metaphors are based on bodily experience, they should remain stable in the course of time. But it seems that they do not remain stable, which requires some explanation from a CMT perspective. Again, to illustrate, I will be using the concept of anger.

Third, it is well-known that roots constitute the foundation of the lexical structure of language. How are roots utilized to develop different senses of words in a language? I will show that, at least in some cases, this is happening with the help of conceptual metaphors and related image schemas that provide meaning for the roots. 7/11 Borrowing metaphor in early English: new forms, new metaphors?

To date, studies of conceptual metaphor have taken little account of the role of borrowing, but many english words with etymologically metaphorical senses have borrowed these from other languages along with their forms. for example, the ‘passionate’ senses of ardent and fervent are not innovated in english, but are well established in french and latin alongside literal ‘burning’ senses; the metaphorical mapping that these senses show is already found in english, with burning exhibiting the same pattern of polysemy. similarly, in french explain is polysemous, meaning both ‘make intelligible’ and ‘spread out flat’, and both senses are attested in english; in this case, though, the metaphor which motivates this polysemy appears not to have obvious parallels in english. this talk considers the nature of borrowed metaphor in the middle english period, focusing particularly on lexical fields that are often conceptualised metaphorically, such as emotions and understanding. it examines the effect of the transmission process on the senses of loanwords, and asks how commonly loanwords with metaphorical senses in medieval english show the same mappings as existing native lexemes. 14/11: FOOD, MEMORY, and TIME in the Middle Ages. Towards corpus study of Medieval Latin metaphors

The Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) has deeply affected the way modern linguists conceive of the metaphor and the role it plays in comprehending the world. Its impact on Medieval Latin studies, though, seems to have been somewhat limited which may be in some part due to the fact that medievalists have for a long time acknowledged the ubiquity of metaphor in both discourse and practice of the Middle Ages. Scholars would then comment on highly elaborated metaphorical images that served as conceptual models for entire domains of intellectual practice, such as ars memoratiua, or ones that would be systematically employed as hermeneutical devices. However, despite this intensive work, there seems to be still a lot of work to be done when it comes to large-scale linguistic description of the metaphors in Medieval Latin.

Basing on my previous corpus studies of conceptualisation of TIME, FOOD AND MEMORY I would like to draw attention to essential aspects of the medieval metaphor. In particular, I will show that we need more systematic account of the figurative expressions, the scope and range of metaphorical mappings, but also of their diachronic evolution and genre distribution. Also, I will argue that if we aim at cross-linguistic or cross-cultural comparison a means of formalizing one’s observations should be proposed. In this respect my paper may be viewed as the prolegomena to a dictionary of Medieval Latin metaphors. 21/11 Tigerlillia Terribilis, and other concretised metaphors in nonsense literature

TBA 28/11: Jerome’s use of metaphors in his letters

Jerome devoted his life and writings to the ascetic movement in the Latin West. His letters were one of the primary vehicles for his teachings. Most of the extant letters were actually treatises, written not for one person alone, but for a broader audience. Often these multifaceted treatises contained a discussion of Jerome's own ascetic teachings and were intended to persuade the reader(s) to adopt an ascetic lifestyle. Jerome used all the rhetorical tools at his disposal to make his case for asceticism. This paper will examine letters in which Jerome uses Christian and pagan metaphors. 5/12: Conversi

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