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Abstract

The twelfth century in Europe was a long and pivotal century that saw the emergence of new school cultures and intellectual centers. The liberal arts move out of the proprietorship of monasteries and cathedral schools; by the end of the century the Parisian universitas or university was forming. The directions that education took in these schools—their practices and their theories—were innovative and experimental. This is a study of the innovative pedagogical projects of four prominent teachers and thinkers who operated within the quickly growing intellectual milieu of Paris. Peter Abelard and Hugh of Saint-Victor were contemporaries whose teaching was prestigious and sought after. Abelard faced the challenges that beset a teacher without a prestigious master and who sought to open his own school. His solution was to build his reputation by relying upon his talent to answer students’ questions through a performative use of dialectical reason in judging the merit of authoritative sources. Abelard’s talent reliance tapped into a larger discussion of talent (ingenium) among his contemporaries. Hugh viewed the Parisian masters’ reliance upon talent as hazardous and disorderly and in response constructed an expansive pedagogical program that encompassed moral and intellectual sides of the student. By detailed discipline (disciplina) and curricular teaching (doctrina), Hugh presented an alternative to the Parisian trajectory. Peter Lombard and John of Salisbury were students of Hugh and Abelard respectively. They each imbibed much from their own master and also gained an appreciation of their master’s rival. Their own pedagogical thought represents a second generation’s approach, offering diverging syntheses of Abelardian and Hugonic elements within their own original, pedagogical strategies. Lombard’s Four Books of Sentences aimed to mold the student into a diligent and humble reader who respected and trusted the correct authorities. John viewed the liberal arts from his active diplomatic and administrative career, serving the archbishops of Canterbury, and presented a fusion of Abelardian and Hugonic elements to resolve his persistent worries with excessive talent-reliance among scholars.

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