Medieval Studies Exam

Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University


I.IDENTIFICATIONS. [Total 30 points.]

Maybe match Column A with Column B; or identify the character who says, “I woke to find myself in a dark wood” — that kind of question, only a bit harder. These questions will be inflicted individually and intracerebrally during the scheduled class period. Put on your thinking tonsures and hope you find favor with Beatrice, abject sinners!

II.QUOTATIONS. [Total 50 points; 5 points each.]

A combination of identification and significance questions will follow quotations from the literature, musical excerpts, and images from the other relevant materials selected for their representativeness of our discussions on key points during these first weeks. This is not Trivial Pursuit, and I derive no glee from stumping you; but you do need to recognize key ideas and moments from the works and from our class interactions. If you have spent time with the material and paid attention in class, only a close review of notes is necessary for preparation. Otherwise, Inferno will seem like an Alaskan cruise.

III.TAKE-HOME ESSAY. [Total 20 points.]

Select one of the following quotations from Umberto Eco (medievalist and author of The Name of the Rose), consult a dictionary for tricky terms, and respond thoroughly and precisely, but do not exceed two (2) pages, double-spaced. The essay should be a virtuoso piece of brilliance manifested in impressive eloquence, with facile reference to specifics from the medieval materials, properly documented.

€ Ascetics, in all ages, are not unaware of the seductiveness of worldly pleasures; if anything, they feel it more keenly than most. The drama of the ascetic discipline lies precisely in the tension between the call of earthbound pleasures and a striving after the supernatural…. Medieval asceticism and mysticism provide us with many examples of these two psychological states, and also with some extremely interesting documentation concerning the aesthetic sensibility of the time. (6)

€ Medieval taste … was concerned neither with the autonomy of art nor the autonomy of nature. It involved rather an apprehension of all of the relations, imaginative and supernatural, subsisting between the contemplated object and a cosmos which opened onto the transcendent. (15)

[Eco, Umberto. Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986.]

The essay is due at in class on exam day to accompany the other in-class components of the exam.


Renaissance Index