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Practicing Literary Theory in the Middle AgesEthics and the Mixed Form in Chaucer, Gower, Usk, and Hoccleve$
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Eleanor Johnson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226015842

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226015989.001.0001

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Formal Experiments with Ethical Writing: Prosimetrum and Protrepsis

Formal Experiments with Ethical Writing: Prosimetrum and Protrepsis

(p.19) Chapter One Formal Experiments with Ethical Writing: Prosimetrum and Protrepsis
Practicing Literary Theory in the Middle Ages

Eleanor Johnson

University of Chicago Press

Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy is a work important in the overall landscape of the literary theory that the text aims to discuss. It carefully teaches its readers how it should be read and experienced. Prose is the form that embodies rational thought, whereas poetry is the form that embodies sensuality and pleasure. This chapter explores the aesthetic form of prosimetrum, which is the mixed form of prose and meter. Protrepsis on the other hand, is the phenomenon that protreptic works—works that teach ethics by creating an identification between the reader and its narrator, the protagonist, in an ethical quest for truth—produce. The chapter explores these forms of writing and their scope within the role of aesthetics in teaching ethics through literature.

Keywords:   boethius, consolation of philosophy, prosimetrum, protrepsis, protreptic work, aesthetics

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