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Getting the Blues

Vision and Cognition in the Middle Ages

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Brian J. Reilly

Getting the Blues: Vision and Cognition in the Middle Ages is an interdisciplinary study of medieval color. By integrating scientific and literary approaches, it revises our current understanding of how people in medieval Europe experienced color and what it meant to them. This book insists that the past perception of the world can be recovered by joining timeless universal constraints on human experience (discovered by science) to the unique cultural expressions of that experience (revealed by literature).

The Middle Ages may evoke images of the multicolored stained glass of gothic cathedrals, the motley garb of minstrels, or the brilliant illuminations of manuscripts, yet such color often goes unnoticed in scholarly accounts of medieval literature. Getting the Blues restores some of the most important literary works of the Middle Ages to their full living color. Particular consideration is given to the twelfth-century Arthurian romances by Chrétien de Troyes and the thirteenth-century Lancelot-Grail Cycle.

Getting the Blues engages debates within the humanities and the sciences over universalist and relativist approaches to how humans see and name color. Scholars in the humanities often insist that color is a strictly cultural phenomenon, eschewing as irrelevant to the Middle Ages recent developments in cognitive science that show universal constraints on how people in all cultures see and name color. This book contributes to the recent cognitive turn in the humanities and sheds new light on some of the most frequent and meaningful cultural experiences in the Middle Ages: the perception, use, and naming of color.

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MEDIEVAL INTERVENTIONS

New Light on Traditional Thinking

Stephen G. Nichols General Editor

Medieval Interventions publishes innovative studies on medieval culture broadly conceived. By “innovative,” we envisage works espousing, for example, new research protocols especially those involving digitized resources, revisionist approaches to codicology and paleography, reflections on medieval ideologies, fresh pedagogical practices, digital humanities, advances in gender studies, as well as fresh thinking on animal, environmental, geospatial, and nature studies. In short, the series seeks to set rather than follow agendas in the study of medieval culture.

Since medieval intellectual and artistic practices were naturally interdisciplinary, the series welcomes studies from across the humanities and social sciences. Recognizing also the vigor that marks the field worldwide, the series also endeavors to publish works in translation from non-Anglophone medievalists.

For additional information about this series or for the submission of manuscripts, please contact:

Peter Lang Publishing Acquisitions Department 29 Broadway, 18th floor New York, NY 10006

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