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Donaldson and Robertson: An Obligatory Conjunction

Donaldson and Robertson: An Obligatory Conjunction by The oppositional sense that characterizes this conjunction--and our professional memory, first powerfully evoked by E. Talbot Donaldson's student Lee Patterson--actually represents a construction, an untruth, a what-might-have-been (but wasn't). Donaldson's "Patristic Exegesis in the Criticism of Medieval Literature: The Opposition" wasn't delivered with D. W. Robertson, Jr., mounting the defense of a method he had pioneered. The September 1958 English Institute confrontation was with someone else. "The Defense" was produced by Robert E. Kaske, a scholar considerably more knowledgeable about exegesis as a topic than was Robertson.1 A more salient and telling confrontation, at another English Institute, wasn't a case of Donaldson and Robertson head to head either. The two read--quite typical essays from each--on different panels on the same morning at the 1950 meeting: Robertson a paper called "The Historical Critic," Donaldson one called "Chaucer's Vocabulary as Evidence of Artistic Intention."2 Yet, whatever the falsity of historical mythologizing, these stand as two revelatory moments. For these feints at conjunction essentially capture the differences between two outstanding medieval critics of their era. Robertson spoke from a voluminously and overtly (although probably not intelligently) theorized position, one that has guided, if not utterly overdetermined, a vast amount of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Chaucer Review Penn State University Press

Donaldson and Robertson: An Obligatory Conjunction

The Chaucer Review , Volume 41 (3) – Feb 19, 2007

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 by The Pennsylvania State University.
ISSN
1528-4204
Publisher site
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Abstract

by The oppositional sense that characterizes this conjunction--and our professional memory, first powerfully evoked by E. Talbot Donaldson's student Lee Patterson--actually represents a construction, an untruth, a what-might-have-been (but wasn't). Donaldson's "Patristic Exegesis in the Criticism of Medieval Literature: The Opposition" wasn't delivered with D. W. Robertson, Jr., mounting the defense of a method he had pioneered. The September 1958 English Institute confrontation was with someone else. "The Defense" was produced by Robert E. Kaske, a scholar considerably more knowledgeable about exegesis as a topic than was Robertson.1 A more salient and telling confrontation, at another English Institute, wasn't a case of Donaldson and Robertson head to head either. The two read--quite typical essays from each--on different panels on the same morning at the 1950 meeting: Robertson a paper called "The Historical Critic," Donaldson one called "Chaucer's Vocabulary as Evidence of Artistic Intention."2 Yet, whatever the falsity of historical mythologizing, these stand as two revelatory moments. For these feints at conjunction essentially capture the differences between two outstanding medieval critics of their era. Robertson spoke from a voluminously and overtly (although probably not intelligently) theorized position, one that has guided, if not utterly overdetermined, a vast amount of

Journal

The Chaucer ReviewPenn State University Press

Published: Feb 19, 2007

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