Rethinking Abelard

A Collection of Critical Essays


Peter Abelard (1079-1142) is one of the most diversely gifted people of the Middle Ages. His letter writing, poetry, theology, logic, and ethics deal with almost every aspect of the trivium. This volume surveys his career to show how his extraordinary versatility enchanted and distressed his public. A selection of international specialists addresses the various aspects of Abelard's literary persona. The topics range from Abelard's personal history to his monastic thinking. There are essays on the letter collection, his views on love, ethical problems such as intention and suicide, his poetry and treatises written for Heloise and her nuns of the Paraclete. With its strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research, Rethinking Abelard opens up new avenues for future scholarship.

Contributors are: Michael T. Clanchy, Peter Cramer, Lesley-Anne Dyer, Juanita Feros Ruys, William Flynn, Babette Hellemans, Taina M. Holopainen, Eileen F. Kearney, Constant J. Mews, Eileen C. Sweeney, Ineke Van ‘t Spijker, Wim Verbaal, and Julian Yolles.

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Pages: 322–349
Pages: 350–356
Babette S. Hellemans, Ph.D. (2006), Utrecht University and École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, is lecturer in Cultural and Medieval History at the University of Groningen. She has published several books and articles on cultural history, and medieval perspectives on time, memory and history. Hellemans is in the process of writing The Varieties of the Self: An Intellectual Biography of Peter Abelard.
Note on Contributors
Introduction by Babette S. Hellemans


Abelard, Heloise, and Discussion of Love in the Twelfth-Century Schools
Constant Mews

Abelard and the Jews
Eileen C. Sweeney

Divine Omnipotence and the Liberal Arts in Peter Damian and Peter Abelard
Julian Yolles

Conflict and Correspondence. Inner and Outer in Abelard and Hugh of Saint-Victor
Ineke van ’t Spijker


Was Abelard right to deny that he wrote the book of "sentences"?
Michael Clanchy

Veiled Platonic Triads in Abelard’s Theologia ‘Summi Boni’
Lesley-Anne Dyer


Abelard and Rhetoric: Widows and Virgins at the Paraclete
William Flynn

Trapping the Future: Abelard's Multi-Layered Image-Building
Wim Verbaal

Intentions and Conscious Moral Choices in Peter Abelard’s “Know Yourself”
Taina M. Holopainen

‘He who kills himself liberates a wretch’: Abelard on Suicide
Juanita Feros Ruys

Peter Abelard’s Planctus ‘Dolorum solatium’: A New Song for David
Eileen F. Kearney

Abelard on the First Six Days
Peter Cramer

The Poetics of Abelard’s Ingenium
Babette S. Hellemans

All interested in the intellectual history of the Middle Ages, monasticism, poetry, culture, literature, religion and philosophy.
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