Enabled and Disabled “Myndes” in <i>The Prick of Conscience</i>

Moira Fitzgibbons

in Medieval Poetics and Social Practice

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823243242
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823243280 | DOI:

Series: Fordham Series in Medieval Studies (FUP)

Enabled and Disabled “Myndes” in The Prick of Conscience

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For Fitzgibbons, the modern term “mindfulness” becomes a lens through which to consider medieval poetry and social practice. She argues that the fourteenth-century Conscience-poet emphasizes “mynde,” “resoun,” “skil,” and “wit” in order to foreground the role of self-aware cognition in the human encounter with death and judgment. Within this context, Fitzgibbons also explores the inevitable problem of disabling madness, as the Conscience-poet describes it, showing us through this text “the complications involved in yoking the soul's salvation to the mind's activity.” Fitzgibbons’ essay deeply engages the poetics of this work by tracking subtle shifts in the meanings and resonances of specific words – such as “mynde” – repeated throughout the text. The Prick of Conscience, Fitzgibbons demonstrates, depends upon its formal features and diction to make its point: that pedagogical intervention into any community requires a mindfulness “both rigorous and humane.”

Keywords: Prick of Conscience; Mind; Mindfulness; Madness; Soul; Poetics; medieval

Chapter.  9523 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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