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The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture
New insights into the role of memory in the medieval world are revealed in this wide-ranging study that draws on a range of examples from Dante, Chaucer, and Aquinas to the symbolism of illuminated manuscripts.
Paperback, 407 pages
Published May 29th 1992 by Cambridge University Press
(first published 1990)
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Dense and filled with fascinating information, The Book of Memory is a fascinating examination of memory and memory techniques. I'm definitely revisiting this book often because there's so much within the covers. Carruthers does tend to repeat herself but since repetition is one of the memory techniques she talks about, I realized she was employing methods that strengthen the memory.
Fascinating. Changes the way I will consider manuscript illustrations and also the way I imagine the way people thought...it's definitely more interesting now to think of a great scholar not just thinking but sweating it out in thought. That is, I'm surprised at how physical thinking was, but also...it makes sense! From now on when I memorize anything I will not be able to keep myself from inscribing words on my mental wax tablet so that I might be able to simply sift through the library of my m ...more
This is a most informative, delightful book have read. It uncovers, explains and offers the methods of ancient and medieval scholars for reading, memorizing and creating literature. It uses insights from neurology, anthropology, semiotics, linguistics, theology and literary criticism to demonstrate how a relatively small group of people in each generation archived, preserved and transmitted the gains of civilization from the likes of Plato, Isaiah and Augustine until the invention of the printin ...more
Feb 23, 2010 Victoria rated it really liked it
The details made my brain hurt, but argues that medieval intellectual culture remained a memorial one, even with increased literacy. Memory and memorization held a particular social and cultural meaning for medieval people -- authoritative knowledge was held in memory, not in texts, and the rise in literacy over the course of the middle ages was only slow to erode this tradition.
I'm rereading this after a twitter conversation with NITLE educator Bryan Alexander, in which I scoffed at the notion that our learning styles were still "pre-Guttenberg." Bryan invited me to say more, but I need to brush up first--I read this for my prelims, which was a long time ago and I was reading fast (see--bad memory--not pre-Guttenberg!) I'll update this as I read with anything I think might be relevant to thinking about learning, memory, and pedagogy in the digital age.
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“My point in setting these two descriptions up in this way is simply this: the nature of creative activity itself – what the brain does, and the social and psychic conditions needed for its nurture – has remained essentially the same between Thomas’s time and our own. Human beings did not suddenly acquire imagination and intuition with Coleridge, having previously been poor clods. The difference is that whereas now geniuses are said to have creative imagination which they express in intricate reasoning and original discovery, in earlier times they were said to have richly retentive memories, which they expressed in intricate reasoning and original discovery.”
“Writing something down cannot change in any significant way our mental representation of it, for it is the mental representation that gives birth to the written form, not vice versa.”More quotes…