2008 Lionel Basney Award
Monica Brzezinski Potkay
"The Parable of the Sower and Obscurity
in the Prologue to Marie de France's Lais"
Volume 57, No. 3, Spring 2008
Text of Citation
The Publications Committee is pleased to grant this year's Lionel Basney Award for the best uncommissioned article published in volume 57 of Christianity and Literature to Monica Brzezinski Potkay, for her essay "The Parable of the Sower and Obscurity in the Prologue to Marie de France's Lais" 57.3 (Spring 2008): 355-378.
In this clear, precise, and informative essay, Monica Brzezinski Potkay deftly navigates between Scripture, exegetical tradition, and medieval literary convention to unfold Marie de France's theory of poetic obscurity and its semantic implications for later commentators and readers of her work. By clearly laying out the poetics inherent in each of these textual traditions and practices, Potkay cogently and convincingly argues for a rich, subtle, and original reading of Marie de France's Lais that centers on the writer's interest in aesthetic beauty and pleasure rather than doctrine.
Potkay's exposition of these points reveals the richness of all the texts involved and persuasively advances her thesis that "Jesus taught not only the apostles, but Marie de France, too, to speak in parables."
2008 Publications Committee: Scott McLaren, Nathan Bracher, and Jens Zimmerman