The Mirror of Grammar

Theology, philosophy and the Modistae

L.G. Kelly | Darwin College, Cambridge
ISBN 9789027245908 (Eur) | EUR 110.00
ISBN 9781588111760 (USA) | USD 165.00
ISBN 9789027297303 | EUR 110.00 | USD 165.00
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ISBN 9780585462523
Much is known about the grammar of the modistae and about its eclipse; this book sets out to trace its rise. In the late eleventh century grammar became an analytical rather than an exegetical discipline under the impetus of the new theology. Under the impetus of Arab learning the ancient sciences were reshaped according to the norms of Aristotle’s Analytics, and developed within a structure of speculative sciences beginning with grammar and culminating in theology. Though the modistae acknowledge Aristotle, Donatus, Priscian and the Arab commentators, their roots also lie in Augustine and Boethius, and they took as much from their scholastic contemporaries as they gave them. This book traces the genesis of a grammar which communicated freely with other speculative sciences, shared their structures and methods, and affirmed its own individuality by defining its object as the causes of language.
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Table of Contents
“[...] a particularly thorough historical exploration of the Modistae, the medieval school of speculative grammar that sought to blend Aristotelian logic with Augustinian views on language [...]”
“For more than seven centuries the Wise in Dante’s Sphere of the Sun have awaited a synthesis of their linguistic wisdom in the context of their understanding of God and the human mind. Kelly, having accomplished this monumental task, has earned his seat among them. He charts the revolutionary developments in grammatical theory that took place in the 12th and 13th centuries, and most intensely in the Paris of the 1260s-70s, which he compares to MIT in the 1950s-60s. Composed of erudition and insight in equal measures, the book radiates enlightenment and inspiration. The balance among topics and chapters is exquisite, the writing crystalline. In a word, the book is great, in both the classical and vernacular senses.”
Cited by

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2014. Medieval Commentators on the Notion ‘persona agentis’ in Priscian’s Syntactic Theory. Historiographia Linguistica 41:2-3  pp. 219 ff. DOI logo
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2018. Unruly Grammar: Linking Vernacular English to Changing Models of Early Modern Pedagogy and Power Politics. English Literary Renaissance 48:1  pp. 98 ff. DOI logo
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[no author supplied]
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Main BIC Subject

HP: Philosophy

Main BISAC Subject

PHI000000: PHILOSOPHY / General
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ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2002074488 | Marc record