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Title: The politics of interpretation : language, philosophy, and authority in the Carolingian Empire (775-820)
Author: Carlson, Laura M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 8503
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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Is language a tool of empire or is empire a tool of language? This thesis examines the cultivation of Carolingian hegemony on a pan-European scale; one defined by a renewed interest in the study of language and its relationship to Carolingian eagerness for moral and spiritual authority. Intended to complement previous work on Carolingian cultural politics, this thesis reiterates the emergence of active philosophical speculation during the late eighth and early ninth centuries. Prior research has ignored the centrality of linguistic hermeneutics in the Carolingian literate programme. This thesis addresses this lacuna, demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between spirituality, language, and politics within the Carolingian world. The work appropriates prior investigations into the connection of semiotics and Christian philosophy and proposes the development of a renewed interest into ontology and epistemology by Carolingian scholars, notably Alcuin of York and Theodulf of Orléans. The correlation between linguistic philosophy and spiritual authority is confirmed by the 794 Synod of Frankfurt, at which accusations towards both the Adoptionist movement of northern Spain and the repeal of Byzantine Iconoclasm were based on the dangers of linguistic misinterpretation. The thesis also explores the manifestation of this emergent philosophy of language within the manuscript evidence, witnessed by the biblical pandects produced by Alcuin and Theodulf. Desire for the emendation of texts, not to mention the formation of a uniform script (Caroline Minuscule), abetted the larger goal of both infusing a text with authority (both secular and divine) and allowing for broader spiritual and intellectual understanding of a text. Increasing engagement with classical philosophy and rhetoric, the nature of Carolingian biblical revision, and the cultural politics as seen at the Synod of Frankfurt depict the primacy of language to the Carolingians, not only as a tool of imperialism, but the axis of their intellectual and spiritual world.
Supervisor: Wickham, Chris ; Leyser, Conrad Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Intellectual History ; Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; Latin ; Medieval philosophy ; Church history ; language ; philosophy ; Carolingians ; Charlemagne ; Medieval history ; Christian philosophy