In recent scholarship, lyric emerges as a privileged form for expressing, simulating, and circulating pain: its formal flexibility, non-narrative structure, and somatic elements allow lyric to evoke an embodied sensation whose "resistance to language," as Elaine Scarry memorably argues, "is essential to what it is." Yet these characteristics do not adhere neatly to lyric. Not all lyrics are formally free and non-narrative. Furthermore, various literary genres employ the formal invention, non-narrative digressions, and somatic elements most often identified with the lyric form.
In the conclusion to her Christian Materiality (2011), Caroline Walker Bynum opens the door to an expansion of her discussion of medieval materiality and religion to Judaism and Islam: "Understanding the full materiality of Christian belief and practice," she says, "may help to clarify at least one of the ways [i.e., the material way] in which medieval Christianity (and, in certain aspects, its modern descendants) is similar to, yet differs from, its sister religions, Islam and Judaism" (273). This session proposes to go beyond Bynum's brief concluding survey, focusing specifically on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.
It is generally accepted that there are few post-biblical Jewish women in medieval Christian art. When they are depicted, their Jewishness is usually unmarked; where they appear in narrative, they are often passive or eventual converts; they lack the anti-Jewish stereotypes so often associated with Jewish males. Sara Lipton has argued that this is partly because "the Jewess's femaleness trumped her Jewishness" ("Where are the Jewish Women?" in Dark Mirror, 2014). At the same time, Jewish women are ubiquitous in the legal and historical records of twelfth- and thirteenth-century England.
The uneasy boundary between madness and love asserts itself throughout recorded history. The shifting relationship between these two phenomena exists across most (if not all) societies and epochs, particularly in literature and art. From lovesickness in the Middle Ages, to nymphomania and hysteria in the Enlightenment, to the stalker in modern-day horror films, the line between love and madness is continually conflated, contested, and blurred.
The grief-stricken faces at Edward's deathbed in the Bayeux Tapestry; the ambiguous 'ofermod' in The Battle of Maldon; the body-crumpling anguish of the Virgin witnessing the Man of Sorrows; the mirth of the Green Knight; the apoplectic anger of the mystery plays' Herod and the visceral visionary experiences of Margery of Kempe all testify to the ways in which the medieval world sought to express, perform, idealise and understand emotion.
Image Matter: Art and Materiality
AAH Students New Voices Conference
MIRIAD, Manchester Metropolitan University
6 November 2015
Keynotes: Professor Carol Mavor (University of Manchester) and Professor Hanneke Grootenboer (University of Oxford)
Call for Papers
Medieval European literature played a defining role in the development of modern fantasy fiction, and genre fantasy has already received a great deal of critical attention in the academic study of medievalism. By comparison, the complex relationship of genre science fiction to the Middle Ages has been sorely understudied, and this session will include papers that consider either or both of the topics in its title, that is, on the one hand, the appearance or influence of "the medieval," broadly conceived, in modern science fiction.
The Canadian Society of Medievalists invites abstracts for 20-minute papers for its session, "Lacunae: Noticing What Is Not There", to be held at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI in May 2016. In doing so, we hope to delve into the productive possibilities for medievalists of paying attention to what is missing. Textual scholars may be particularly familiar with the physical problem of absent sections of text, missing leaves or illegible scripts obscured by damage or decay to the manuscript but these kinds of lacunae are not the only ones that scholars encounter.
In its five hundred years of reception, responses to John Lydgate's poetry have varied between extremes. Early regard for Lydgate appears in such places as Stephen Hawes' Pastime of Pleasure, where the monk is canonized alongside Chaucer and Gower and at greater length than either of the other poets. By contrast, Joseph Ritson describes Lydgate in 1802 as a "voluminous, prosaick, and driveling monk." This comment has formed a flashpoint in Lydgate studies for both those who would dismiss and those who would defend this poet. Renoir, Schirmer, Pearsall, and Patterson provide a wide-ranging sampling of these perspectives.
While historicist approaches to Lydgate have played a large role in the poet's now decades-old critical recuperation, all along this recuperation has also been alert to the formal dimensions of his work and to some of the many ways these dimensions represent innovations. Studies by, for example, Maura Nolan and Claire Sponsler have fruitfully combined historical inquiry with explorations of the ramifications of form. With many in the field of literary study seeking, in a variety of ways, to return considerations of form to the center court of the field's endeavors, it is an apt moment to extend, complicate, and/or critique accounts of Lydgate as a formal innovator.