This post is guest-edited by David Wrisley, Medieval Fellow @DJWrisley.
Medieval Fellows for the Fall 2014-15 semester Emma Campbell and David Wrisley are hosting an informal workshop with other Fordham scholars on the notion of the vernacular across different medieval contexts.
Participating Fordham medievalists include Lucy Barnhouse (History), Louisa Foroughi (History), Laura Morreale (Medieval Studies) and David Pedersen (English).
Guiding questions for the flash presentations are as follows:
- What happens when competing vernaculars exist and which specific historical contexts shape their use? (Morreale)
- How did language become authoritative in Mainz’s courts and contracts? (Barnhouse)
- How does the representation and use of Latin and vernacular languages in medieval Francophone texts complicate opposition between these groupings? (Campbell)
- How has the tendency among scholars to establish Latin as the pinnacle of literary production in the early Middle Ages caused us to miss the possibilities that might have been utilized by authors writing in the vernacular? (Pedersen)
- Since the term vernacular itself does not appear to be a medieval term, are there medieval ways of approximating the concept? (Wrisley)
- Where does language choice feature in constructing identities and navigating social hierarchies? (Foroughi)
- What about different national language situations inflects the way the term ‘vernacular’ is used in medieval scholarship? (Wrisley)
- What are the implications of this for the way we think about medieval language and translation? (Campbell)
- What can the use of the vernacular in surviving documents tell us about how it was used alongside Latin (complementing or competing with it) in legal process? (Barnhouse)
- What do we gain or lose from applying the term ‘vernacular’ to discourses beyond the realm of language difference, i.e. material cultures, social groups, or religious practices/beliefs? (Foroughi)
- How might the critical tendency to assume Latinate philosophy and theology as an ideal for authors writing in the vernacular have caused us to gloss over the peculiarities of the subtly varied worldviews that vernacular languages might be uniquely able to express? (Pedersen)
- When multiple vernaculars exist beside indigenous vernaculars, what benefits do authors enjoy with each linguistic choice? In the case of Italy, I’m wondering if French and Occitan were more easily transferred within the Italian peninsula than were the local Italian dialects. (Morreale)
- How we might use humanities “big data” to think about the vernacular as a shifting literary historiographic category? (Wrisley)
Check back here for a crowd-edited summary of the event.