This project considers twelfth- and thirteenth-century Western European thought and literature, in particular machines as models for thought and the relationship between poetry and engineering in medieval science and science fiction. The corpus for this project includes twelfth-century romance literature written in medieval French, especially as it features ingenious machines, automata, and robots, the Alexander romance tradition and the romans d’antiquité. The particular aim is to show these literary texts as offering specific ways of creating and imagining that allow for new insights and hypothetical experience. These romances are considered alongside twelfth-century Neoplatonist poetry and philosophy in the tradition of Plato’s Timaeus; tracing the links between these two textual networks is an important feature of the project. The present focus of the research is on ideas of experience, intelligence, and cognition in the period immediately before and during the assimilation of Aristotelian natural science in medieval Europe. Of particular interest is the human capacity for ingenium—which can mean ingenuity, craft, intelligence, creativity, or machine.
Medieval Ingenium: Knowledge, Experience, and Technology
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