Skip to:

Medieval Studies Workshop: Johannes Junge Ruhland and Sarah Kay



Johannes Junge Ruhland (French), Sarah Kay (NYU)


Wednesday, October 28, 2020 - 4:00pm - 6:00pm






Medieval Studies Workshop: Johannes Junge Ruhland and Sarah Kay


Co-hosted by Phil+Lit

Perceptive modes for Richard de Fournival’s Bestiaire d’amour. Exploring the Investments of Knowledge along the Text/Manuscript Line

This paper is the first chapter of my dissertation, Thought Laboratories. The Effects of Incongruence in Vernacular Multi-Text Manuscripts. In the dissertation, I describe a sub-group of manuscripts containing more than one text which have been neglected by scholarship due to the incongruence of their contents. Instead, I take incongruence as a positive descriptor and argue that some of these manuscripts offer a conditioned space of cognitive exploration for its readers. My aim is to intervene in literary studies by offering tools for describing what incongruence can do rather than fails to do, in book history, by surmising that some multi-text manuscripts were made with the intention to set up thought experiments which categories such as recueil organique and recueil homogène obfuscate, and in anthropology, by describing an uncharted practice of vernacular literacy.

Chapter 1 has three aims. I show that Richard de Fournival’s Bestiaire d’amour (mid-13th century) operates as a thought laboratory by mobilising logical and generic incongruences that lead the reader to investigate the investments that underpin the formation of knowledge. I also develop the notion of ‘perceptive modes’—a formally conditioned perceptual pre-disposition—to show the various ways in which the Bestiaire offers its readers hypothetical views on knowledge-formation. Finally, my chapter moves from the text of the Bestiaire to its presentation in multi-text manuscripts. I aim to verify whether a text that functions as a thought laboratory implies that a multi-text manuscript containing it functions like one too, and if so, to describe how. But chiefly, I aim to establish a mode of reading that does not take individual texts as its objects of study by showing that in numerous multi-text manuscripts, the Bestiaire has no clear boundaries.