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Humanities Brown Bag Seminar

Monday, February 13, 2023
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)
Conscience as Craft: Michael of Northgate's Experimental Temper
Jennifer A. Jahner, Professor of English, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Caltech,
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Abstract: Michael of Northgate, monk of St. Augustine's, Canterbury (fl. c. 1340), enjoys a reputation within both history of science and late medieval religious studies as a notable scribe and translator. Despite his pronounced interest in both homiletic and scientific materials, however, Michael of Northgate's full corpus has never been in examined in conjunction. This paper seeks to do so, demonstrating the underlying currents that bring Michael's interests in astrology, astronomy, and magic together with his precocious, idiosyncratic effort at translating confessional material into English. The paper argues for understanding Michael's scribal activities as components of an interrelated "experimental" project, invested in spanning the distance between self-knowledge and knowledge of the natural world. In particular, it shows how conscience, or inwyt, finds a ready analogue in the language and logic of craft experimentation, in which homiletic self-examination serves to "temper" the spirit through trial, repetition, and the subtle adjustment of rhetorical admixtures.

For more information, please contact Cecilia Lu by phone at 626-395-1724 or by email at [email protected].