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Grant number like: FT-57815-10

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Claire M. Waters
Regents of the University of California, Davis (Davis, CA 95618-6153)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2010 – 9/30/2010

Translation, Education, and Salvation in the Thirteenth Century

This project studies the interactions of medieval teachers (primarily clerics) and learners (primarily laypeople) as represented in texts that convey basic Christian doctrine in Old French, especially Old French verse. I argue that studies of medieval instruction have tended to emphasize Latin education or the gulf between clergy and laity, while thirteenth-century works, both didactic and entertaining, show that the two groups were engaged, implicitly, in a collaborative process of education with implications well beyond the Middle Ages. These works emphasize dialogue, investigations of status, and the moment of individual death and judgment in ways that ask us to rethink how we evaluate "lay" and "expert" knowledge and the relationship between them. The unintended consequences of the thirteenth-century efforts at broad dissemination of basic knowledge include not only the decline of Latin as the language of learning but the concomitant and ongoing revaluation of lay expertise.