The Letters of Abelard and Heloise Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What does Abelard say motivated him to tell Heloise the things that filled her with despair?

2. What does Heloise ask Abelard in her first letter?

3. What does Abelard affirm to Heloise?

4. What did Abelard feel about his castration?

5. Where was Abelard born?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Abelard say about the Cumean Sibyl?

2. Why does Abelard say he was avoiding contact with Heloise?

3. What occasioned Heloise's letter to Abelard?

4. In Letter 4, why does Heloise say she is disappointed with Abelard's response?

5. What is Heloise's response to Peter the Venerable?

6. What does Heloise say about her burdens in Letter 6?

7. Who was Anselm of Laon and how did he figure in Abelard's career?

8. Describe Abelard's arguments in favor of an abbess in charge of the convent.

9. Why does Heloise say there should be different standards for women?

10. What does Heloise ask Abelard at the end of Letter 2?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Peter the Venerable's letter to the pope is the first interjection from outside of Abelard and Heloise. What is Peter the Venerable's role in this epistolary conversation? What is his authority in this relationship? How does his appearance change the correspondence?

Essay Topic 2

Research the history of the letters of Abelard and Heloise. By what mechanisms were they transmitted to posterity? Who made sure that these letters survived? Were they ever in danger of being lost? What value do written texts have to Abelard and Heloise and their culture? What makes the written absolution important? What provision is made for the preservation of textual culture?

Essay Topic 3

Reading the text closely, describe Abelard and Heloise. What do we know about them based not only on what they tell us, but their style of writing as well?

(see the answer keys)

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