Saints, Scholars, and the World of the Carmina Burana

Knapper, Daniel, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Parker, John, English, University of Virginia

The essay explores the reception and influence of Saint Augustine within the university cultures of Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries. It uses the literary texts of the Carmina Burana manuscript to argue that Augustine's self-representation in the Confessions, particularly the narrative of his life before faith as a wandering scholar in the Roman empire, became an important model for the lives and literary interests of the earliest medieval scholars. Augustinian influence proved at once liberating and burdensome: while the medieval scholars could point to the church father's precedent in justifying their own simultaneous enthusiasm for pagan literature and Christian truth, the pressure to live up to his intellectual accomplishments fostered High Scholasticism's culture of curious-mindedness and worldly ambition. The Church's subsequent polemic against these vices established the archetypal figure of the "doomed scholar," a figure the Early Modern period would later inherit in the character of Doctor Faustus.

MA (Master of Arts)
Augustine, medieval scholars, Carmina Burana
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