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The aim of this English-language series on medieval studies is to establish a methodical, discerning connection between text analysis and cultural history. The series addresses the fundamental cultural themes of the medieval world from the perspective of literary studies and the humanities. These fundamental themes are the culture-formative conceptualizations, world views, social structures and everyday conditions of medieval life, namely, childhood and old age, sexuality, religion, medicine, rituals, work, poverty and wealth, superstition, earth and cosmos, city and country, war, emotions, communication, travel etc. Fundamentals of Medieval Culture pursues important current discussions in the field and provides a forum for interdisciplinary medieval research.
The series is open to anthologies as well as monographs. The aim of the series is to present compendium-like works on the central topics of medieval cultural history that provide a sound overview of a limited subject area from the perspective of various disciplines. On the whole, the series thus presents an encyclopedia of medieval literary and cultural history and its main topics.
After an extensive introduction that takes stock of the relevant research literature on Old Age in the Middle Ages and the early modern age, the contributors discuss the phenomenon of old age in many different fields of late antique, medieval, and early modern literature, history, and art history. Both Beowulf and the Hildebrandslied, both Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and Titurel, both the figure of Merlin and the trans-European tradition of Perceval/Peredur/Parzival, then the figure of the vetula in a variety of medieval French, English, and Spanish texts, and of the Old Man in The Stricker's Daniel, both the treatment of old age in Langland's Piers the Plowman and in Jean Gerson's sermons are dealt with. Other aspects involve late-antique epistolary literature, early modern French farce in light of Disability Studies, the social role of old, impotent men in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Netherlandish paintings, and the scientific discourse of old age and health since the 1500s. The discourse of Old Age proves to have been of central importance throughout the ages, so the critical examination of the issues involved sheds intriguing light on the cultural history from late antiquity to the seventeenth century.