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READING ON ANNE MIDDLETON’S MEDIEVAL STUDIES

-PARSHURAM RAI

Introduction:

Unlike the conventional view that Medieval Studies or literature doesn’t admit of modern elements because of domination of ‘Dark Age’. Anne Middleton asserts that a modified new historicist’s view of medieval literature supports that humanist and liberal outlook characterize it. By modified new historicists, she means a textual and cultural approach, which she calls ‘New Philology’; that is a model for medievalist internal logic. This methodology tool, according to Anne Middleton, comes from the internal logic. This methodology tool, according to Middleton, comes from the internal logic of the isolation of Medieval Studies at the hand of modern literary theory, particularly, ‘New Criticism’ and ‘New Historicist’.

Secession:

Anne Middleton dramatizes the isolation of Medieval Studies as very – very low prestige of medieval literature and medievalist. She locates four reasons for isolation marginalization of Medieval Studies as below

  1. The negative definition of medievalism vis-à-vis (interrelated) the Renaissance where as the latter renaissance is taken as the grand narrative of European, British history, the former (Medieval Studies) is othered (Marginalized) as the ‘Dark Age’. And era of ignorance and anti-quietly as opposed to progress and modernity.

2.The second reason of it, pertain to (related) the severance (cutting off) of the ties of Medieval Studies from the Renaissance up to the Post-Modern Studies.

  1. The third cause it, isolation of Medieval Studies is similarly concern with the cutting off of this field from the modern and contemporary developments in cognitive (knowledge) methodologies such as philosophy, linguistic, anthropology, sociology and psychology etc.
  2. And finally, Anne Middleton attributes the isolation of Medieval Studies to the fact that no medieval literature, except for the work for Chaucer and Langland, find a place in the cannon of English literature.

Invention of Medieval Studies (1945-1965):

 Despite the marginalization, Medieval Studies got invented in the American academia during the inter-war period (first and second world war). There are two factors operative behind the invention:

  1. The Holocaust
  2. The Cold war

The holocaust led to a massive fight of Jews from East-Europe to England and America. Quite a few Jews were intellectual trained, is art history and interdisciplinary subject. The ability of such men power facilitated the opining of interdisciplinary department like art history and Medieval Studies. The invention of Medieval Studies got for the shoot in the arm because of cold war, which necessitated the starting of area studies program.

The invention, however, was beset with problem, which difficulties seem to be related to the opposition between the New Criticism and exegetics as well as the supreme position of the former of the New Criticism upon the study of medieval literature inherently cultural in nature.

Exegetical Criticism is pattern after a mere commentary of scriptural text a commentary, which completely ignores the analyses of the form. New Criticism, on the other hand, focuses on the formal meaning. The opposition between New Criticism and Exegetical Criticism got resolves in favor of the form at the time of the invention of the Medieval Studies. Similarly, even the interdisciplinary approach was governed in formalist reading of the medieval text. Ironically, the privileging of formalist criticism to study medieval literature contributed of the marginalization of Medieval Studies during the early years of its (studies) inception (starting) in the United States.

Institutionalization of Medieval Studies:

Paradoxically, enough the marginalization of Medieval Studies continued in the post war era studies programs in the after oath of the cold –war had initiated the institutionalization of Medieval Studies. Medievalist, curiously started with drawing themselves from the comparalist, formalist, analytical method that the activities of area studies program gave rise too. Occasion in this way, the medieval age became philosophically weak and inert. The weakness that comes up in spite of the increase in the number of Medieval Studies department is a matter of a great concern for Middleton, who calls such scenario the institutionalization of Medieval Studies.

The marginalization, in the philosophic sense, persisted (continuously) even after the 1960s. In that, it comes worse in the 1960s, when a purely cultural studies approach was superimpose on Medieval Studies. Anne Middleton says that a response in the form of a rejection of the theory is its self is underway to end the marginalization of Medieval Studies. Arguing against – both a purely formalist approach an exclusively purely cultural methodology. She pushes for the medieval line. She clearly warns us against opening beyond the world of textually even as, she calls for focusing on the social logic of the text. The kind of methodology that she calls that she had eliminated for the dualist studies textual -com- border on the textual – cum- binary –cum- cultural.

New Philology:

Anne Middleton gives too, the name of New Philology, which comes very- very closed of New Historicism without being new history. It larks, somewhere, in between old historicism (philology) and New Historicism. Anne Middleton tores it as a tool grounded in manuscript matrix of New Philology runs counter to the codified (writing) textuality flash (full off) with humanist philology attributable to the print culture. The tool of New Philology, which Anne Middleton pushes for Medieval Studies, re-internalized historicity that had become killed by New Criticism. However, at the same time, it doesn’t completely cancel out the verbalism of New Criticism. It also acknowledges that extent to which textuality is shaped by the pressure to discuses (culture of history) because of the room (place) for both textuality and historicity in New Philology. Anne Middleton says that cultural community becomes textual community.

She strongly favors “New Philology” as the right- kinds of tool to teach and criticize, medieval literature, also because of three developments influencing a field (Medieval Studies).

  1. The first developments have come up because Edward Said’s critical position that uncertainty exists around the so-called poles of the binary opposition such as popular learned and secure religions.
  2. The second development reflects to the current view that medieval religious is more a patriarchal than doctrine.
  3. The third developments insist on critical attention to be pain to the contextual because of medieval literature, what these three developments urge us to do is to initiate a dialogue between a medieval age and cultural of the time. Therefore, Anne Middleton studies to be drawn on the vector (magnitude and direction) of New Philology.

Lesson of Marginality:

As Anne Middleton sum up her main ideas in the essay ‘Medieval Studies’ by stressing that ‘New Philology’ is that the right tools to study medieval life and letter( literature). By recognizing both social forces and textual devices; New Philology contributes towards the ending of the marginalization of Medieval Studies. This tool enables medievalist to have ‘Tiresias – like double vision‘, which means actually for the foresightness that allows them to integrated the old manuscript culture to modern print culture, then by the bringing the gap between the medieval and modern.

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