Abstract

The Middle Ages developed a rigorous semantic account of how thought mediates between words and things. Modern literary theory, in contrast, has been characteristically skeptical about whether anything is gained by attempting to discover the thoughts of the author that lie behind the words. For medieval readers, connecting with an author's thoughts mattered, above all, because they understood reading to be a form of interpersonal engagement. The text is not simply an impersonal artifact, good for stimulating certain sorts of responses, but it is an expression of the thoughts of another mind. Ultimately, it is the value of minds connecting with other minds that led medieval readers to care about authorial intention.

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