The Seven Liberal Arts in the Middle Ages

The Seven Liberal Arts in the Middle Ages

The Seven Liberal Arts in the Middle Ages

The Seven Liberal Arts in the Middle Ages

Excerpt

The present book represents the culmination of a project that began several years ago when Linda Caruthers, Jim Peavler, and I designed a course that would satisfy a new requirement for interdisciplinary study that was to be part of the general education program at Northern Illinois University. In developing this course, "Introduction to Medieval Studies," we adopted the seven liberal arts as the theme not only because it allowed examination of the basic curriculum of medieval education but also because it provided a springboard for the study of many other facets of medieval culture. We established a format that combined classroom discussion with public lectures by scholars from other universities who were specialists in the various medieval arts.

During the first semester that the course was taught, we came to recognize that there was need for a book synthesizing the extensive contemporary scholarship devoted to the medieval arts. Since this task seemed beyond the scope of any single scholar, we decided that the public lectures could well serve as the basis for such a work. Because of a variety of unforeseen circumstances, however, I had to assume responsibility for carrying out this project.

The lecture series on which this book is based was put together in 1977. Professor Morrison's lecture and those devoted to the individual arts were delivered during the academic year 1977-78. The series concluded the following November with Professor McInerny's lecture. All the speakers from the previous year returned to Northern for that address, which also served to open a conference, "The Medieval Arts and the Modern World." This conference provided a unique opportunity to coordinate the various lectures. It included both public and private meetings, with two working sessions devoted to discussing the original lectures, copies of which had been sent to each participant. The present essays incorporate the revisions decided on at that conference, with one exception. When the lecturer on rhetoric found it necessary to withdraw from the project, Martin Camargo generously agreed to write an essay specifically for this volume.

The original plan was to concentrate on the High Middle Ages. It became clear in the course of the lecture series, however, that the medieval arts could be understood only against the background of classical scholarship. Therefore, at the conference, we decided that I should . . .

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