Constant J. Mews

title.none: Vaughn, Teaching and Learning (Constant J. Mews)

identifier.other: baj9928.0804.024 08.04.24

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Constant J. Mews, Monash University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2008

identifier.citation: Vaughn, Sally N. and Jay Rubenstein, eds. Teaching and Learning in Northern Europe, 1000-1200. Series: Studies in the Early Middle Ages, vol. 8. Turnhout: Brepols, 2006. Pp. xxii, 360. $85.00 (hb) 2-503-51419-7. ISBN: .

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 08.04.24

Vaughn, Sally N. and Jay Rubenstein, eds. Teaching and Learning in Northern Europe, 1000-1200. Series: Studies in the Early Middle Ages, vol. 8. Turnhout: Brepols, 2006. Pp. xxii, 360. $85.00 (hb) 2-503-51419-7. ISBN: .

Reviewed by:

Constant J. Mews
Monash University

The pedagogical slogan "teaching and learning" draws attention to the importance of the experience of learning as much as on the content of teaching. This volume makes an important contribution towards such a perspective. Its wide and ambitious title might suggest that its geographical focus is wider than it actually is. "Northern Europe" is here used to refer overwhelmingly to the Anglo-Norman domain, with a few essays on northern France, without anything on Germany. The volume is driven by a more specific aim, to get away from the traditional emphasis on the rise to dominance of Paris as an educational centre in the twelfth century, and to re-assert the influence of monastic schools, particularly within Normandy. Yet the regional focus of so many of the essays in this volume (complemented by a more wide ranging essay by Münster-Swendsen on pedagogical models in northern Europe) is valuable in itself. As Vaughn and Rubenstein argue in their thoughtful introduction, Francophile historians of scholasticism have long tended to assume that--with the brilliant exception of St Anselm--Norman monasticism never generated an educational culture as significant as that of the Parisian schools. The essays in this volume help question rhetorical assumptions about a scholastic/monastic divide, by considering cultural, political, and religious influences on educational practice within particular locations in Normandy and northern France in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Technically speaking, two essays in the volume fall outside the chronological parameters suggested by the title, those of Michael E. Moore, "Teaching and Learning History in the School of Reims, c. 800- 950," and of Jason K. Glenn, "Master and Community in Tenth-Century Reims." Yet they serve the volume well in reinforcing well the fundamental continuity of educational practice in Reims between the ninth and eleventh centuries. As with many of the papers in this volume, their focus is not so much on specific ideas or concepts, as on pedagogy. Biographies of individual teachers (like Gerbert of Aurillac) may be relatively thin as records of the content of their teaching. Nonetheless, they can be rich in documenting the charismatic power of an individual teacher, as C. Stephen Jaeger has shown so well within the German context in the tenth and eleventh centuries. One can only regret that the two excellent chapters on Reims between 800 and 1000 were not followed up by a re-assessment of the role of schools of Reims in the eleventh century, for which we still have to rely on the now quite outdated (but still useful) study of John R. Williams in Speculum (1954). It would have been interesting to reflect on Bruno of Reims, who left that city after the political disturbances of 1076/1077 to pursue an eremitic career, or John of Reims, who also left Reims about this time, in his case for Saint-Evroul in Normandy, where he became the mentor of Orderic Vitalis. There is similarly little focus in the volume on how Laon took over from Reims as a center for learning in the late eleventh century, or on the hotly contested issue of the relationship between Chartres and Paris in the twelfth.

Yet the conscious attempt of this volume to avoid well-trodden paths in educational history is still helpful. The paper of Priscilla D. Watkins, "Lanfranc at Caen: Teaching by Example," highlights the importance of Caen as an educational centre under Lanfranc and his successor as abbot of St-Etienne, William Bona Anima. In the late eleventh century, monks could play as important a role in providing higher-level public education, as could secular clerics like Anselm of Laon in northern France. Sally Vaughn's essay, "Anselm of Bec: the Pattern of his Teaching" emphasizes well the charismatic impact of Anselm's pedagogical technique. It includes a minor slip, Vaughn's claim (114) that St Anselm's protégé, bishop Fulk of Beauvais, is the same person as Fulcoius of Beauvais, author of a poetic treatise on the marriage of Christ and the Church. Yet this does not undermine her major theme, that Anselm offered his admirers (many of whom were monks) a charismatic model of pedagogy, as concerned with the inner soul as much as with linguistic correctness.

Bruce C. Brasington's paper, "Lessons of Love: Bishop Ivo of Chartres as Teacher" highlights an under appreciated theme, that the renewal of canon law in the late eleventh century (which preceded and certainly influenced the renewal of theology in the twelfth), was not simply about ecclesiastical rights. Brasington emphasizes that Ivo's greatness rested not just on his knowledge of patristic precedent, but on his awareness of the role of caritas as underpinning the law of Christ, and thus of the Church. Although there is no paper specifically on Abelard in this volume, Brasington's account helps provide the context for Abelard's own expansion on the theme of caritas in the Sic et Non, itself profoundly indebted to Ivo's achievement in the Decretum.

Jay Rubenstein's paper, "Guibert of Nogent's Lessons from the Anglo- Norman World," is concerned not so much with educational practice, but with the instruction in which he engaged through his writings. He argues that Guibert cannot be identified simply as "pro-French" in his enthusiasm. William North's paper, "St Anselm's Forgotten Student: Richard of Préaux and the Interpretation of Scripture in Early Twelfth-Century Normandy," exploring themes of action and contemplation, fits in more easily with Vaughn's emphasis on the influence of St Anselm, not himself remembered as a scriptural commentator. North provides a valuable edition of extracts of Richard's commentaries on various books of the Bible.

John S. Ott's paper, "Educating the Bishop: Models of Episcopal Authority and Conduct in the Hagiography of Early Twelfth-Century Soissons," is concerned not with formal teaching as such, but with a series of saints' lives written at Soissons for Josselin de Vierzy, bishop of Soissons 1126/27-1152. Ott shows how these saints' lives effectively provide models of episcopal authority in a city where the commune did not always have easy relationships with the monasteries of Saint-Médard and Saint-Crépin. This study, excellent in bringing to life the dynamism of Soissons in the twelfth century, suggests that Josselin, normally remembered as a teacher of dialectic, would develop as bishop an acute interest in contemporary history and its relevance- -helping to explain why he should be the dedicatee of Suger's account of the life of Louis VI. The complexity of the interface between monastic and scholastic culture is also well brought out by John D. Cotts, in his study, "Monks and Clerks in Search of the Beata Schola: Peter of Celle's Warning to John of Salisbury Reconsidered." Rather than interpreting Peter of Celle as simply attacking the schools, Cotts elucidates the seamless quality of their literary friendship, which clearly went back to their time in Paris, when Peter was a monk at St-Martin-des-Champs while John was a secular cleric. Their correspondence exemplifies a significant theme in this volume as a whole, that any rivalries between monks and clerics were not as important as their shared commitment to education and the study of letters.

A welcome interdisciplinary dimension is provided by John L. Snyder, "Reason and Original Thinking in English Intellectual Circles: Aristotle, Adelard, Auctoritas, and Theinred of Dover's Musical Theory of Species." He shows how Theinred of Dover (fl. 1150), author of an unpublished treatise on music, and quite possibly the grammarian identified as Tenredus by John of Salisbury, offers an original critique of music, attentive to its phonetic character--a parallel Snyder suggests, to the more well-known critique of authority given by Adelard of Bath. The essay well demonstrates how music theory deserves to be as integrated into any history of education and ideas in the twelfth century as any other discipline.

The final essay, by Mia Münster-Swendsen, "The Model of Scholastic Mastery in Northern Europe, c. 970-1200," explores the bonds of affectivity which bound master to disciple throughout this period. C. Stephen Jaeger has already demonstrated the significance of charismatic authority of masters in the imperial cities of the tenth and eleventh centuries. Münster-Swendsen's study is excellent in extending this perspective to the twelfth century. Rather than reflecting on polemical debate about rivalries between charismatic monks and charismatic masters, she focuses on friendship as the glue of pedagogical experience. In doing so, she shows how crucial such networks were to nurturing the educational and intellectual vitality of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The editors are to be congratulated for producing such a cohesive volume of essays, one which invites further exploration of both teaching and the experience of learning in medieval Europe.