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Abstract

This dissertation considers the medieval Parisian project of Scholasticism as a concrete, physical phenomenon that took tangible shape in dialogue with the built, visual, and material environment. Focusing on Paris between c.1120–c.1320, I explore how the city shaped intellectual culture and ideologies invested in the pursuit of knowledge and truth, while being itself subject to continuous physical transformation and reimagining. More specifically, I investigate the contributions of particular locales and spaces to the practice of scholastic pursuits and ideals of knowledge; the sights, sounds, and activities that became associated with scholastic learning; and the way architecture and visual representation were involved in the making and performance of the scholastic project writ large. As I argue, the scholastic project was at once realized and reimagined both in and through the spaces it inhabited. Rather than in the controlled settings of the ecclesial schools, Scholasticism took form, above all, in the streets and squares, in constant interaction with its surroundings, fashioning and re-fashioning itself in experimental and innovative ways. Confronting our dematerialized, rarified notion of Scholasticism, I aim to show how the urban arena was a powerful incubator of the intellectual debates and ideological conflicts that defined Parisian Scholasticism—indeed, an entire chapter of medieval intellectual history.

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