The Horatian formula
prodesse et delectare was extremely influential in the production of texts across various languages and genres. While indeed didactic elements can be attested to in almost any medieval text, and while medieval literature displays a range of possibilities to teach and instruct, the scope of the present volume is more closely focused on explicitly didactic literature.
This volume combines contributions that analyse didactic literature in high medieval Europe from different vantage points. They open new perspectives on education as a working principle or legitimizing strategy in the heterogeneous forms of writing intended to convey knowledge. This broad thematic, linguistic and geographical scope enables us to view didactic literature as the universal phenomenon it was and prompts us to understand its influence on many aspects of society in high medieval Europe and beyond. While the contributions explore case studies predominantly from this period of transition and the expansion of the categories of knowledge, they also trace some of these developments into the later Middle Ages to spotlight the lasting influence of high medieval teaching and learning in literature.
The way medieval writers combine ‘the pleasant’ with ‘the useful’ is this book’s main question.
Norbert Kössinger, University of Magdeburg, Germany, and
Claudia Wittig, University of Gent, Belgium.