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I do so love getting new books! Just lashed out on these with a voucher from my kind in-laws. If you see me sitting impatiently by the post box, you know why:

de colore copeland hermeneutics

parergon30-1coverI’m happy to announce that my article “Words as Weapons in the Correspondence of Edward I with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd” has just appeared in the most recent edition of Parergon. You can get it through Project Muse here if your library has a subscription.1 Here’s the abstract to whet your appetite:

The correspondence exchanged by Edward I of England and Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales in the late thirteenth century has traditionally been read for its legal and jurisdictional implications. However, as Rees Davies noted, language was itself a weapon in medieval Anglo-Welsh conflict. From this assumption, I examine a single letter exchange to investigate the construction and function of royal epistolary language. I suggest that traditional and formulaic elements were adapted to strategic expression of the authority and longevity of royal power, and that silences were equally intentional and rhetorically forceful weapons in the campaign to dominate Wales.

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[1] I know it’s all about open access these days, but I’m a member of the august association that publishes this journal, and the income that this online access generates keeps it afloat, and able to do fabulous things like offer student essay prizes, subsidized conference registrations, professional training seminars and travel bursaries. All of these activities are things I have benefited from in my own (albeit, so far, short ) career, and are in my humble opinion Good Things. So, despite the fact that I’m all for people being able to read my work (the more the merrier!) you won’t find me putting illicit copies of this online because I think it would be genuinely counter productive and mean spirited of me to deny opportunities like this to others by diverting such an important funding stream away from the good work of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. On the other hand, if you are an independent scholar without access or means you can contact me privately for a copy for your own use if you are interested, because I do care about information accessibility even if I don’t want it to be at the expense of small scholarly societies. End rant.

Acyrologia (n.): (Rhetoric) the imprecise use of language, failure to use the proper term.

This word, which I came upon in the commentary on Donatus’ Barbarismus attributed to Robert Kilwardby (as translated in the recent rhetorical door-stopper edited by Rita Copeland and Ineke Sluiter), is a treasure and a joy forever. In the relevant passage, the commentator explains that an allegorical intention can excuse acyrologia. That is, if an instance of improper language use is “perpetrated on purpose for special effect” it becomes a species of allegory, and is thus no longer inappropriate.[1]

We’ve all found plenty of example of this in student work: I can think of one that made me chuckle while marking exam papers earlier this year in which I was assured that life for “pheasants” was particularly difficult in medieval times. Poor fowls. Not sure why they had it so tough… But for some reason, more than student malapropisms, this made me think of my grandfather, one of whose favourite sayings was “looks like an obstacle illusion!” I’m pretty sure this would have constituted acyrologia if it hadn’t been intended for humorous effect… Good one, Gramps!


[1] Medieval Grammar and Rhetoric: Language Arts and Literary Theory, A.D. 300–1475, ed. by Rita Copeland and Ineke Sluiter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), (p. 734). The quote comes from the editors’ definition and discussion of the term at n. 54.

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I teach and research at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in the School of Philosophical, Historial and International Studies, Monash University (Australia). Views expressed here are my own and not representative of the CMRS, SOPHIS or Monash.

You can also find my academic profile on Academia.edu

Twitter: @KB_Neal

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