In Medieval Crossover: Reading the Secular against the Sacred, Barbara Newman offers a new approach to the many ways that sacred and secular interact in medieval literature, arguing that the sacred was the normative, unmarked default category against which the secular always had to define itself and establish its niche. Newman refers to this dialectical relationship as 'crossover'-which is not a genre in itself, but a mode of interaction, an openness to the meeting or even merger of sacred and secular in a wide variety of forms. Newman sketches a few of the principles that shape their interaction: the hermeneutics of 'both/and,' the principle of double judgment, the confluence of pagan material and Christian meaning in Arthurian romance, the rule of convergent idealism in hagiographic romance, and the double-edged sword in parody. Medieval Crossover explores a wealth of case studies in French, English, and Latin texts that concentrate on instances of paradox, collision, and convergence. Newman convincingly and with great clarity demonstrates the widespread applicability of the crossover concept as an analytical tool, examining some very disparate works.
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