Volume 3, number 2 (October 2013)

JIS logoVolume 3, number 2 (October 2013)


Cory Grewell, ‘Introduction: Medievalist Fantasies of Christendom’, pp. 3-10
No abstract available
Cory Grewell, ‘“It’s All One”: Medievalist Synthesis and Christian Apology in Owen Barfield’s Studies of Meaning’, pp. 11-40
In Saving the Appearances, Owen Barfield offers what he calls ‘final participation’ as an antidote to the unfortunate and ‘disastrous’ fragmentation of meaning in the modern world. Final participation, as Barfield defines it, is an act of the human consciousness whereby it first recognizes the synthetic nature of the universe and its grounding in the creative act of the divine consciousness. Then the human consciousness proceeds, through the imaginative faculty, to participate with the divine in the ongoing process of creating and meaning-making. Barfield argues that the modern world lost the conception of a participated universe with the increasing materialism of ‘scientific’ thought,
beginning in the Renaissance and continuing through the Scientific Revolution. Thus, human consciousness must return to the medieval concept of a synthetic universe, a universe most thoroughly theorized in the thought of Thomas Aquinas, and recover the ‘spiritual wealth’ found in the medieval worldview if it is to produce the meaning-saturated understanding of the cosmos that final participation provides.
Chris Willerton, ‘Dorothy L. Sayers, Dante, and the Modern Reader’, pp. 41-58
The strongest link between the medieval and Dorothy L. Sayers’s Christian apologetics are her commentaries on Dante. She was less interested in medievalism than in the medieval itself, used as a mirror of her own century. One result is that Sayers does not discuss Dante’s work in order to promote the gospel but rather finds the gospel fused into it. Her concern with reader response drives both her exposition of Dante and the Christian apologetic embedded in it: to rejoice in Dante, a reader has to suspend disbelief (and other habits of modern thought) and consider whether Christianity might be both true and desirable.
Sørina Higgins, ‘Double Affirmation: Medievalism as Christian Apologetic in the Arthurian Poetry of Charles Williams’, pp. 59-96
In his unfinished cycle of Arthurian poems, Charles Williams developed a totalizing mythology in which he fictionalized the Medieval. First, he employed chronological conflation, juxtaposing events and cultural references from a millennium of European history and aligning each with his doctrinal system. Second, following the Biblical metaphor of the body of Christ, Blake’s symbolism, and Rosicrucian sacramentalism, he embodied theology in the Medieval landscape via a superimposed female figure. Finally, Williams worked to show the validity of two Scholastic approaches to spirituality: the kataphatic and apophatic paths. His attempts to balance via negativa and via positiva led Williams to practical misapplication —- but also to the creation of a landmark work of twentieth-century poetry.
Janice Brown, ‘C.S. Lewis and the Truth about Angels’, pp. 97-110
Lewis’s perspective on angels is apparent in The Discarded Image, his scholarly work on medieval and Renaissance literature. His preface to The Screwtape Letters reveals the seriousness with which he approaches the subject: it proposes that a mistaken view of angelic beings is more dangerous than ignorance of them. The space trilogy seeks to avert that danger. In it we are confronted by angelic eldila—inscrutable and holy beings inhabiting “deep space” who relentlessly accomplish the purposes of the Almighty. Characterized by absolute goodness and archetypal charity, they are serene yet they pulsate with energy. Lewis’s intense interest in angels is further apparent in a number of his poems. Throughout his work he depicts angels as real beings, inhabiting an actual universe, who actually participate our lives. They represent mysterious eternal realities, yet they are part of God’s daily providence.
Crystal Downing, ‘Angelic Work: The Medieval Sensibilities of Dorothy L. Sayers’, pp. 111-132
After establishing Dorothy L. Sayers’s interest in medieval culture, this essay narrows its focus to Gothic architecture, arguing that Sayers’s fascination with medieval churches helped transform her view of the Church Universal. While a student at Oxford, Sayers echoed the modernist sensibilities of her time, valuing medieval architecture for the way it revealed the “sweetness and light” of culture. After two decades and several detective novels, Sayers began to see medieval architecture differently. Her novel The Nine Tailors provided a key to unlock her vision, and her play The Zeal of Thy House provided the keystone to uphold her new view of Christianity. These works led Sayers to look beyond ecclesiastical monuments to what they represent: a gathering of believers working to carry each other’s burdens as stones carry the arches upholding a medieval church.
Taylor Driggers, ‘Modern Medievalism and Myth: Tolkien, Tennyson, and the Quest for a Hero’, pp. 133-52
This essay considers Tennyson’s portrayal of an autonomous, evolved Arthur in Idylls of the King as a segue into the modernist context against which Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings. While Tennyson’s mythmaking has all the outward trappings of the medieval tradition, it uses this setting to put forth ideas reflective of the Victorian faith crisis and anticipatory of the modernist obsession with autonomy and progress. Tennyson’s Arthur functions as a modernist’s Messiah, standing in stark contrast to Tolkien’s Frodo, who more fully embodies a Christian ideal that the modernists would interpret as medieval or obsolete. The Lord of the Rings is, in this light, a deconstruction of Tennysonian heroism and a re-establishment of the Christian virtues of humility, self-denial and sacrifice as the pinnacle of true mythic heroism.
Salwa Khoddam, ‘The God Amor, the Cruel Lady, and the Suppliant Lover: C.S. Lewis and Courtly Love in Chapter One of The Allegory of Love’, pp. 153-181
Lewis’s “effort of the historical imagination” in The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition — commensurate with his innate romanticism—bolstered by like-minded writers as his sources, resulted in his reconstructing of Courtly Love and its characters as a fantasy. While this approach limited his understanding of Courtly Love, its origins and its relationship to marriage and adultery, it allowed him to create a mythology of a Religion of Love: a “quasi-religion” of “service love” between a chevalier/poet and his sovereign lady, under the auspices of the god Amor. This view would elevate the medieval Anglo-French allegorical poem, which he will discuss in the following chapters of his book, as the foundation of the best of poetry that led to Chaucer and Edmund Spenser, his favourite poet.

Review Essay:

Anna Caughey, ‘Old and Middle English Influences in The Fall of Arthur’, pp. 183-207
No abstract available