The Medieval Self-Commentary: A Transnational Perspective, Fondation Hardt, Vandoeuvres, July 22–23, 2014
To medieval authors commentaries and exegesis were a means to establish a dialogue with a past regarded as exemplary. And yet, toward the Late Middle Ages, exegesis becomes more and more a means of self-expression and self-assertion. European writers from different geographical areas increasingly dedicate themselves to comment on their own writings, instead of glossing on authoritative texts of the past. Hermeneutics turns out to be integral to the process of creativity. The present conference aims at exploring the progressive emergence of self-commentaries in medieval Europe, in order to investigate how and why new expressive and communicative forms developed from traditional formats. Self-commentaries are also linked to broader processes of diffusion and legitimation of vernacular languages across Europe. They therefore represent a unique source to understand how pre-modern and modern individual identities shaped and re-presented themselves. The development of self-commentaries is a break with tradition. Such a break was made possible by the emergence of new social groups as well as by transformations involving book production in late medieval Europe. The conference will be the first attempt to look at medieval self-commentaries as a pan-European, pre-humanistic phenomenon, considering continuities and discontinuities across multiple national traditions. To this end, we will bring together scholars belonging to different fields and theoretical approaches, in order to address the manifold questions raised by medieval self-commentaries.