Curtis Gruenler of the Hope College English faculty has been awarded a Mellon Fellowship for study at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif., this summer.
Gruenler will use the library for further research
on his current book project, "Piers Plowman and the Uses of
Written in the later 1300s, "Piers Plowman" is a
book-length series of allegorical dream visions that focuses
on how to save one's soul but involves an encyclopedic
critique of medieval English culture.
"The author, who we think was named William
Langland, was an older contemporary of Geoffrey Chaucer, and
the indications are that this poem was something of a best
seller while Chaucer was writing," Gruenler said. "Its
traditional title comes from the name of a puzzling figure
who recurs throughout the poem, first as a sort of radical
political leader and ultimately as a representation of Jesus
Christ and the pope."
In his study, Gruenler interprets the series in
light of the medieval interest in "enigma," from riddles to
the theology implicit in St. Paul's saying that "We see now
through a glass darkly, but then face to face" (I Cor.
13:12). His project began as his dissertation at the
University of California at Los Angeles, which he completed
Gruenler, an assistant professor of English,
joined the Hope faculty in 1997 as a specialist in medieval
literature. He also teaches the department's course in the
history of the English language, and team-teaches in the
college's Cultural Heritage courses.
In addition to his doctorate from UCLA, he holds a
bachelor's degree from Stanford University.