Medieval Literary Theory

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Julie Orlemanski (University of Chicago)
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Literary theory accounts for the nature of written discourse and the methods of interpreting it. It seeks to articulate the principles underlying phenomena like language, style, genre, authorship, linguistic truth, and fiction. In the Middle Ages, or the millennium stretching between 500 and 1500 CE, no single discourse or discipline was responsible for literary theory, nor did the Middle Ages have a term exactly equivalent to what “literary theory” means in literary studies today. Nonetheless, the thinkers and writers working in Western Christendom regularly investigated and debated the workings of written language. They did so as part of varied intellectual undertakings that ranged from interpreting sacred scripture to reconsidering pagan myths, and from making manuscripts to…

6008 words

Citation: Orlemanski, Julie. "Medieval Literary Theory". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 November 2021 [, accessed 17 April 2024.]

707 Medieval Literary Theory 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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