Beauty, Memory and Morality in Late-Medieval Allegory
Beauty signifies in contradictory ways in medieval writings; it can materially figure God’s wisdom, or exemplify human folly, the manifestation of the individual’s enslavement to the senses. This paper looks at examples of often conflicted representations of beauty amd their interpretations, from both allegorical and non-allegorical writings, including work by Marie de France and Deguileville, to consider how writers exploit and (sometimes ironically) reflect on the conceptualization of beauty as the means to aesthetic and moral knowledge.
Catherine Batt teaches at the University of Leeds. Her research interests include translation, material culture, gender studies and the representation of women, Anglo-Norman Literature, Arthurian Literature, Middle English romance, Saints’ Lives, devotional literature, and twentieth-century medievalism. She has published on, inter alia, Anglo-Norman women writers, Clemence of Barking, Caxton, the Gawain-Poet, Hoccleve, Malory, and Sylvia Townsend Warner. Her translation of Henry, duke of Lancaster’s Book of Holy Medicines is forthcoming with the French of England Translation Series, University of Arizona Press.
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