Although the major premise of our course thus far has been the elaboration of the world view between 1050 and 1550, it can be said that an adjunct theme has been the question of identity. It can be argued that human beings determine their identity through conflict, a conflict which is at times hidden, and thus manifests itself in subtle ways. At other times, this conflict is out in the open and it is there that individuals find themselves. Consider the following excerpt from Malcolm Barbers’s excellent study, The Two Cities (1992):
Explicitly or implicitly, the activities and thoughts of human beings in the centuries between c.1050 and c.1350 were moulded by two powerful forces: on the one hand, the pressures and the temptations of the material world, made all the more manifest by economic development, and on the other, the deeply held belief in the need to aspire towards a higher, spiritual life, itself displayed with increasing clarity by contemporary social changes.
I think Barber is on to something. I also think his model of conflict (implied in his use of the expression, two powerful forces) can shed some light on future developments in the intellectual history of Europe, specifically the Renaissance and Reformation. History abounds in conflict and each age has had to reconcile its conflicts in its own way: that is, we can only discern the significance of conflict if it is understood in its historical context. The ultimate reconciliation of conflict within the individual and society, produces identity and without identity, one can not seriously fashion a world view.
... and does not understand the world. Through this, Hornby has successfully portrayed conflicting identities within the characters. Another literary ... the central theme concerning individuality is that of conflicting identity- the notion that neither Marcus nor Will are ... him further illustrate the conflicting identities within the text. Nick Hornby’s key interpretation of identity is that, though it ...
This much said, I would like you to write an essay which discusses conflict and the creation of identity as it was worked out in the period c.1050-1550. Your answer, of course, depends on your view or image of the period. You may see the period as a whole (eg. the Medieval world) or perhaps as distinct episodes (eg. 12th Century Renaissance, Renaissance, Reformation).
With this in mind, what forces were present which produced conflict and how was that conflict reconciled (if it indeed ever was) to fashion a new identity (or world view)? You may wish to consider individual thinkers as representative of their age (the Abelard, Petrarch, Erasmus gambit) or, you may wish to view the period in its totality and so talk in more general terms.