Master Class on The Cloud of Unknowing

Apr 26, 2013
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Co-sponsored by the Medieval Studies Workshop

This master class is intended for graduate and advanced undergraduate students. If you have any questions, please contact Mark Franzen at

The Cloud of Unknowing is a work of spiritual counsel, a guide to a kind of contemplation, by a fourteenth-century English author, now unnamed but with several other works to his credit. It is a recognized masterpiece: serious, brilliant intellectually, and in literary terms cunning and audacious. It is easy to understand but hard to explain: making sense of its doctrine is not difficult, but making sense of what is means by that doctrine, how it should be used, and what it should be interpreted as part of, is not. This seminar will discuss both sides of this coin, exploring that doctrine (and, if we have time, the literary devices by which it is expounded), but also exploring the conundra the work poses for intellectual and cultural history. For the benefit of those whose Middle English is rusty, we will use a modernized edition, but I will bring along some Middle English passages for inspection.

Reading List
The Cloud of Unknowing, Paulist Press, ISBN 0809123320
(Other versions are acceptable) 

2:00pm  Welcome
2:15pm  Session I
3:30pm  Coffee Break
3:45pm  Session II
5:00pm  Reception