Allegory and Sexual Ethics in the High Middle Ages by Noah D. Guynn (auth.)

By Noah D. Guynn (auth.)

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Extra resources for Allegory and Sexual Ethics in the High Middle Ages

Example text

Indeed, Alan’s words rather insistently refer not to natural or transcendental order but to writing itself. Vestigia can mean “feet” but is also understood as “foot-mark” or “mark,” a vestige of what is no longer present but is known only through signs. Nature might therefore be understood not as an essential being or presence in the text but rather as a marker of an absence. The verb signo similarly refers not just to an act of pressing (the lips pressed to the feet) but also to writing or otherwise marking with signs.

I find Spence’s analysis of troubadour lyric highly persuasive, and I agree that the troubadours provide later secular writers with models for bracketing interpretive contingencies through strategies of closure. Nevertheless, my perspective on the legacy of Augustine, and in particular the ideological inflection of his process-oriented hermeneutics, is quite different from hers. First, I do not believe that Augustinian hermeneutics offers inexhaustible possibilities for the cooperative, collective mediation of textual mysteries.

Allegory and Ideology Turning to the literary traditions of the High Middle Ages, I would argue that the probing self-consciousness and self-reflexivity of medieval allegory could similarly be construed as strategies for dissimulating, and at the same time advancing, underlying ideological agendas. If allegory appears to be about the inexhaustible difference between representation and truth, I would argue that it also plays on the uncertainty of its own meaning in order to authorize a particular kind of reader to distinguish between proper and improper, orthodox and heterodox, interpretations.

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