Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.782924
Title: The 'mechanical arts' and poiesis in the philosophy and literature of the twelfth-century schools
Author: Burgon, Anya Erica Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 7968 5259
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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Abstract:
The 'mechanical arts' or artes mechanicae were first named as a part of Philosophy in Hugh of Saint-Victor's Didascalicon (1120s). They were identified as seven arts (fabric making, armament, commerce, agriculture, hunting, medicine, and theatrics), and positioned as a parallel to the seven liberal arts. Their inclusion in the Didascalicon has been taken by previous historians to signal a new interest in science and engineering, an effort to 'give intellectual status to technology for the first time'. This study reconsiders the significance of the mechanical arts for schoolmen working in northern France in the twelfth century. It argues that while this category designated a set of everyday technologies, it also had a more covert, imaginative currency for certain authors - as an image or exemplum for the process of learning. Its procedures and activities could be held up as a mirror to those of the liberal and especially verbal arts, picturing these in the terms of poiesis - an ancient model for philosophy as 'sense making' or 'world making'. This metaphorical utility of the artes mechanicae can be discerned in Hugh's discussion, running underneath his more literal concern with the mechanical arts as everyday technologies. It was given fullest expression, I argue, in the later allegorical encyclopaedias of 'Chartrian' poets, Bernard Silvestris and Alan of Lille (1140s-80s). The final part of the thesis discusses Geoffrey of Vinsauf's Poetria nova (c. 1215). Here the mechanical arts are enlisted to represent the student of the verbal arts as a technite, a technician and theorist. Geoffrey's work is often considered a summa of medieval thinking about poet-craft. But its recruitment of the mechanical arts to picture theoretical mastery also marks the end - and a reversal - of the lesser-known invocation of mechanica by twelfth-century authors, the one I trace here: which cast the author and scholar as a maker proper, a 'poet' in the ancient sense of that word.
Supervisor: Binski, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.782924  DOI:
Keywords: poiesis ; School of Chartres ; Bernard Silvestris ; Alan of Lille ; Geoffrey of Vinsauf ; Hugh of Saint-Victor ; mechanics ; Timeaus ; Cosmographia ; Anticlaudianus ; De Planctu Naturae ; Didascalicon ; Poetria nova ; medieval crafts ; making ; senses ; liberal arts ; mechanical arts ; cosmography ; poetry ; allegory ; encyclopaedia ; cosmology ; demiurge ; orphic ; medieval technology ; theory and practice
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