Medieval Speech Acts

Subject associations
FRE 560 / 504 / 557
Fall 2021
Daniel Heller-Roazen
Registrar description
A seminar on medieval practices and theories of performative speech, from lies to oaths, promises, blessings, curses, deeds and sacraments. Readings are drawn from Old and Middle French poetry as well as earlier and later medieval grammar, logic and theology, where doctrines of "efficacious" signification and the force of words play major roles. To bring into focus the medieval treatments of speech acts, we also consider selected twentieth-century philosophical, linguistic and sociological accounts of performative speech (particularly by Austin, Benveniste and Goffman).