Each Principium was composed of a sermon and a quaestio collativa. In each sermon the candidate demonstrated his rhetorical skills by eloquently praising the object of his study, often using rhymes and stanzas, forming a kind of academic poetry or literary genre centred on the relation between the Master (Peter Lombard) and his follower (the candidate). These sermons provide a wealth of material that calls out for proper interpretation, but the technique of their composition has never been investigated. Accordingly, the DEBATE project intends to highlight the key characteristics of principial sermons in an attempt to:
(a) identify their structure,
(b) classify their rhetorical elements,
(c) describe the relation between this academic typology of sermons and other homiletic genres,
(d) discern what motivated scholars to employ rhetoric in academic or scientific work during the later Middle Ages,
(e) determine whether various institutional contexts share a similar rhetorical approach.