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12 October, 2015

Review of Novikoff, The Medieval Culture of Disputation

My review of Alex J. Novikoff's The Medieval Culture of Disputation: Pedagogy, Practice, and Performance (U of Pennsylvania Press) just appeared in the American Historical Review 120/4 (2015): 1541-2:

In this welcome study, Alex Novikoff attempts to extricate the medieval scholastic disputation from its most often negative postmedieval reception. If Renaissance and Enlightenment commentators, anxious to prove that their own reasoning had progressed away from medieval practices, succeeded in branding the scholastic disputation as narrow minded and pedantic, Novikoff offers a revisionist history that would have it evolve from a broadly conceived medieval culture of argument, debate, dialogue, and polemic (what Giles Constable and others have termed a “science of doubt”). Thus, he situates the disputation’s genesis and growth in an expansive narrative that includes private as well as public spaces, educational, literary, and performative contexts, and written, oral, and musical settings. To render such a comprehensive cultural history achievable, Novikoff limits most of his observations on developments in Northern France and between 1050 and 1263.  

The distinctive stations of Novikoff’s cultural history of the disputation beginREAD THE FULL REVIEW HERE