Marco Nievergelt

Senior Teaching Fellow, Medieval and Early Modern English and European Literature, University of Warwick

Marco's research interests include the following areas: allegory, medieval and modern; medieval theories of signification, perception and interpretation; the interactions between scholastic philosophy and literature in the later Middle Ages; the reception and translation of continental literature, particularly French, in England; Anglo-French relations during the Hundred Years War; chivalric literature and romances; late medieval crusading and ideas of holy war; the history of (textual) subjectivity and self-representation; Guillaume de Deguileville; William Langland; the Roman de la Rose; Edmund Spenser.

His main project is currently: Medieval Allegory as Epistemology: Dream-Vision Poetry on Language, Cognition, and Experience.

The project examines how late medieval dream-poetry could provide a powerful means for exploring a set of closely related epistemological questions through allegorical narrative. My analysis focuses primarily on three very popular and influential literary texts from the later Middle Ages, two in French and one in English: Jean de Meun’s Roman de la Rose (ca. 1269–78), the two versions of Guillaume de Deguileville’s Pèlerinage de Vie Humaine (1331 and 1355), and William Langland’s vision of Piers Plowman in its 4 extant versions (ca. 1360–90). All three poems provide extended first-person accounts of quest narratives framed as dream visions, and respond to major shifts in scholastic philosophy occurring during the thirteenth century, specifically in the areas of philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. The first aim of the project is to explore the neglected question of how the two French allegories shape Langland’s poetic project and its evolution over time, with specific attention to Langland’s interest in processes of human knowledge. A second, related aim of the project is to contribute to our understanding of the larger question of the ‘philosophical’ uses of allegorical poetry, specifically its ability to address cognitive matters. While such allegorical poetry clearly responds to Latin, academic discourses on knowledge, it is highly reductive to see this poetry as merely ‘applying’ the ready-made philosophical formulations of scholasticism. Instead I suggest that allegorical poetry also articulates a different, distinctive and more experiential kind of philosophical discourse about language and cognition, essentially cast in the form of a first-person narrative account of a fictional experience of vision.

Recent Publications

‘Allegory, Hermeneutics and Textuality: The French Lineage of Langland’s Revisionary Poetics’, Forthcoming with Yearbook of Langland Studies 30 (2016), 183-206.

'Can Thought Experiments Backfire? Avicenna’s Flying Man, Intellectual Cognition and the Experience of Allegory in Deguileville’s Pèlerinage de Vie Humaine’ In Philip Knox, Jonathan Morton and Daniel Reeve (eds.), Thought Experiments and Hypothesis in Medieval Europe, 1100–1400 (Turnhout: Brepols). In Press, forthcoming 2017.

‘Writing the ‘hoole book’ of King Arthur: the inscription of textual subjectivity in Malory’s Morte Darthur’, Modern Philology 113/4 (2016), 460–81. 3.

‘From disputatio to predicatio – and back again: Dialectic, Authority and Epistemology between the Roman de la Rose and the Pèlerinage de Vie Humaine’, New Medieval Literatures 16 (2015), 135–71. 4.

‘The Place of Emotion: Space, Silence and Interiority in the Stanzaic Morte Arthure’, Arthurian Literature 32 (2015), 31–58. 5.

‘The Sege of Melayne and the Siege of Jerusalem: National Identity, Beleaguered Christendom and Holy War during the Great Papal Schism.’ Chaucer Review 49/4 (2015), 402–26.

Experience

  • –present
    Senior Teaching Fellow, Medieval and Early Modern English and European Literature, University of Warwick