University of California, Berkeley
Co-sponsored by the Medieval Studies Workshop
This master class is intended for graduate and advanced undergraduate students. If you have any questions, please contact Mark Franzen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cloud of Unknowing is a work of spiritual counsel, a guide to a kind of contemplation, by a fourteenth-century English author, now unnamed but with several other works to his credit. It is a recognized masterpiece: serious, brilliant intellectually, and in literary terms cunning and audacious. It is easy to understand but hard to explain: making sense of its doctrine is not difficult, but making sense of what is means by that doctrine, how it should be used, and what it should be interpreted as part of, is not. This seminar will discuss both sides of this coin, exploring that doctrine (and, if we have time, the literary devices by which it is expounded), but also exploring the conundra the work poses for intellectual and cultural history. For the benefit of those whose Middle English is rusty, we will use a modernized edition, but I will bring along some Middle English passages for inspection.
The Cloud of Unknowing, Paulist Press, ISBN 0809123320
(Other versions are acceptable)
2:15pm Session I
3:30pm Coffee Break
3:45pm Session II
Steven Justice is Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD from Princeton in 1985 and has taught at Berkeley since 1987. His recent essays include “Did the Middle Ages Believe in their Miracles?” (Representations 103 ); “Who Stole Robertson?” (PMLA 124 ); “Literary History,” in David Raybin and Susanna Fein, ed., Chaucer: Contemporary Approaches (2010); “Chaucer’s History-Effect,” in Andrew Galloway and Frank Grady, eds., Answerable Style: The Idea of the Literary in Medieval England (forthcoming); “Eucharistic Miracle and Eucharistic Doubt,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, forthcoming. He is finishing one book (Adam Usk’s Secret) and working on another (Did the Middle Ages Believe in their Miracles?).