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This ground-breaking book explores key methods for investigating emotions in medieval literary texts, proposing innovative approaches, drawing upon psychological theory, ‘history of emotions’ research and close critical reading, to uncover the emotional repertoire in play in English literary culture between 1200 and 1500. The extensive Introduction lays out medieval philosophical and physiological theorisations of emotion, closely bound up with cognitive processes. Following chapters investigate the changing lexis for emotion in Middle English, examining how translations from French affect the ways in which feelings are imagined. Bodily affect, both involuntary displays and deliberate gesture, is discussed in detail. Performativity – getting things done with emotions – and performance are shown to become interlinked as more sophisticated models of selfhood emerge. Concepts of interiority and the public persona, the self and self-presentation complicate the changing modes through which feeling is expressed. Literary texts are pre-eminently devices for producing emotion of various kinds; the book proposes ways of tracing how authors incorporated techniques for eliciting emotions into their narratives and their effects on their audiences. By the end of the medieval period two vital developments had expanded the possibility for varied and complex emotional expression in texts: the development of the long-form romance, encouraged by the advent of printing, and the concept of autofiction; new possibilities emerged for authors to write the emotional self.

Carolyne Larrington

This chapter examines how medieval audiences (both intra- and extradiegetic) are emotionally affected by storytelling, by the tales embedded and related within narratives and by the literary works that real-life audiences consume. It places questions of audience empathy and the elicitation of other kinds of emotions alongside the ‘paradox of fiction’ – why do audiences feel so intensely when engaging with fictional characters? The chapter explores certain psychological theories that seek to provide answers to these questions: simulation theory and embodied cognition theory, underpinned by the operation of neural networks. Recent psychological studies of emotion and communal audience reactions – emotional contagion – provide context for the conditions under which medieval literary texts were most often consumed, and the neurophysiological bases for empathy are explored. The chapter also takes up the crucial distinction between emotion produced by events within a narrative and emotion produced by the aesthetics of the narrative itself: a distinction that can be traced back to Augustine, and which informs clerical and secular writing in the medieval period. Verbal works of art are expressly designed to elicit emotion; the chapter identifies the effective techniques authors employ in their narration. Lastly, this chapter considers the ways in which audience emotions are modelled and guided within texts and closes with an examination of the emotional impact of cycle drama upon its audiences.

in Approaches to emotion in Middle English literature
Open Access (free)
French books and male readers in fifteenth-century England
J. R. Mattison

This chapter assesses the evidence for the movement of books in French during the Hundred Years War. Using the surviving books of Humfrey, duke of Gloucester, as a starting point, it reveals a network of cross-Channel book owners during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Operating through the shared language of French, this predominantly masculine network is further strengthened by military roles. Such military links both developed relationships between men and facilitated the movement of people during the course of the war that led to the exchange of books. The contexts of these exchanges encompassed gifts, purchases, ransoms and more. Linked foremost by martial and gender ties, rather than national or social affiliations, these men participated in the transnational trade of books that persisted even beyond the official end of the Hundred Years War.

in Literatures of the Hundred Years War
Abstract only
Carolyne Larrington

The Conclusion to the book summarises the book’s larger arguments, asserting that medieval literature has much to contribute to our understanding of emotion in medieval historical contexts. It weighs the relative usefulness of the theoretical and methodological strategies investigated in the book. In seeking to answer the questions raised in the book about words, bodies, performativity, audiences and change, it also identifies emerging issues that the analysis has raised. The Conclusion also foregrounds the importance of various kinds of intertextual relationships for the creation and transmission of existing and innovating generic emotional norms, as successive generations of authors and audiences explore genre-related emotion schemas as effective in communicating and producing feelings. Whether they work to maintain or subvert or whether they innovate and alter existing models, emotions in literature move, educate and inform English audiences about changing ways to be human across the medieval era.

in Approaches to emotion in Middle English literature
Alain Chartier’s allegorical oneiropolitics
Lucas Wood

Seeking to avert the ruin of a France threatened by international and civil conflict during the Hundred Years War, Alain Chartier’s Middle French Quadrilogue invectif (1422) mobilises the form of the literary dream vision and the poetics of personification allegory as instruments of historical representation and polemical critique. The scourge of faction, stemming from a general failure by all of the members of the body politic either to understand or to feel the essential truth of their unity and the community of interest it entails, is at once made visible and vigorously denounced, both verbally and performatively, in a vitriolic debate between personifications of ‘France’ and the three estates. By staging dissension among these characters, Chartier aims to remedy it in his readers, modelling a powerful affective investment in the common good and mediating the individual political subject’s self-insertion into multiple conceptual formations of collective identity. Even while boldly asserting dream allegory’s potential to reshape the political consciousness of the realm, however, the Quadrilogue reflects and implicitly reflects on the inevitable artificiality of allegorical oneiropolitics, a necessarily artful constructedness that Chartier’s rhetorical tropes ultimately share with the very figure of the perfectly unified polity that is insistently naturalised throughout his text.

in Literatures of the Hundred Years War
Carolyne Larrington

Emotion is at times foregrounded by psychonarration and manifested in utterances; more frequently its presence is indicated by somatic indices: by embodied responses and deliberate gestures. This chapter defines ‘affect’, somatic sensations that function at a preconscious level, and continues by exploring how medieval emotion is written on bodies, thus revealing interior emotional states. The cardiocentric model, in which emotion is understood as focused on the heart, is outlined; affect theory is utilised to unpack how medieval writers understood physical manifestations of emotion as central to contemporary theoretical formulations of the role of will in emotion, as both preconscious and yet bound up in complex cognitive interactive processes. Characters faint, change colour or fall silent, behaviours which register different kinds of feeling as in play. Turning pale, for example, can express fear or anger: precisely which emotion is at stake is crucial for the status of the chivalric male figure; trembling can be equally ambiguous. Certain behaviours – laughing, weeping – fall between the involuntary and deliberate: women can weep on cue, it is suggested, and laughter rarely expresses happiness, but rather triumph. Bodies can also express emotion through deliberate behaviour in the form of gesture: kissing, kneeling, leading by the hand and smiling all indicate different kinds of emotion that is both felt and publicly performed. The strategic deployment of emotive indicia could trump the ‘natural’ movements of the humours and the spirits within the body, an understanding that problematises the connections between affect, will and motivation.

in Approaches to emotion in Middle English literature
Carolyne Larrington

This chapter draws together two major developments in the depiction of literary emotions by the beginning of the fifteenth century, bringing into focus two contested achievements of Middle English literature: its discovery of fiction and the emergence of interiority in literary writing. It argues that towards the end of the medieval period the ways in which authors addressed literary emotion had undergone substantial change. They responded to the increasing interest in other humans as thinking, feeling subjects, offering enhanced access to interiority: not just emotions, but also thoughts, memories and motivations. The long-form romance (in both poetry and prose) and the advent of printing create space for the expanded exploration of emotion through longer dialogues, more direct psychonarration and detailed somatic affective display. These works would reach wider audiences and communicate the genre’s primary emotional scripts to an expanded range of social ranks; romance’s close association with historical or pseudohistorical texts worked to legitimate the production of these popular works. The fifteenth century also sees the emergence of ‘autofiction’; fictive selves are written into poems by Thomas Hoccleve and in the very different Book of Margery Kempe, creating feeling subjects whose emotionality authorises the creation of texts and opens up for the audience new possibilities for their own emotional self-fashioning across diverse social and devotional settings.

in Approaches to emotion in Middle English literature
Open Access (free)
The pastourelle and the Hundred Years War
Elizaveta Strakhov

In The Sexual Politics of Meat, Carol J. Adams examines how figurative language supports structural violence against both animals and women. Language elides the animal life of the meat we are consuming: we eat beef, we do not eat cow. Similarly, objectifying language focused on female body parts metaphorically reduces women’s subjecthood to units of flesh that can be consumed and abused, like animal flesh. Using Adams’s discussion as a lens, this chapter focuses on a little-known cycle of late medieval French pastourelles that openly critique the Hundred Years War by portraying rural deprivation and devastation. In the first half of the cycle, pillaged peasants are metaphorically and affectively imagined as their own attacked sheep, offering their plight a sacral register. The second half of the cycle, meanwhile, seems to switch gears to discuss sexual violence levied against women, who are also imagined as attacked sheep. On its surface, the poetic cycle thus seems to offering representation and perhaps even a voice for animals, female survivors of sexual assault, and the rural poor. And yet, a persistent representational aporia at the heart of the cycle’s project – manifested in a recursive emphasis on literal absences, repeated references to extradiegetic situations and hypothetical scenarios – belies their apparent sympathies with animals, women and the poor. Anticipating Carol Adams’s critique by multiple centuries, these pastourelles use metaphor to collapse animals, women and the poor into a category ultimately brought together by the cold logic of these groups’ economic usefulness to society as a whole.

in Literatures of the Hundred Years War
Andrew Galloway

The genre of ‘tragedy’ has a well-established though sprawling history, one in which glimpses of history’s massive and often horrifically destructive forces are as key as the many scholarly uses of tragedy to chart phases of history; in this sense Hegel remains as important as Raymond Williams. Views of medieval ideas of tragedy, however, remain more controverted and elusive. Scholarly focus has wavered between attention to a narrow lineage (Boccaccio–Chaucer–Lydgate) to a wide span of writings called ‘tragedy’ from the twelfth century. Against both options, the early to mid-fifteenth century, at the height and near the failure (with Henry V’s death) of the Hundred Years War, merits a closer look. Apt for further consideration are both the historical writings of the monk Thomas Walsingham (especially the Ypodigma Neustriae), and John Lydgate’s prolific ‘tragedies’, the Fall of Princes and Of the Sodein Fal of Princes in Oure Dayes. Drawing in different ways on ancient texts like Lucan’s, Walsingham and Lydgate elaborate a notion of ‘tragedy’ that indicates a tipping point in views of social structure in general, one that uses tragedy to reassess war, empire, conquest and lordship in newly critical terms. In works that straddled Henry V’s death but never acknowledge it, neither writer articulates the ruptures in the ideas of imperialism and lordship they reveal, but both indicate a vast range of new tragic perspectives, whose sudden plenitude suggests an overdue reconception of society, even if the genre they elaborate emphasises the inarticulable nature of all historical change.

in Literatures of the Hundred Years War
Open Access (free)
Literatures of the Hundred Years War
Daniel Davies
and
R. D. Perry

The Hundred Years War stakes a claim to concerns of a continental scale. What began as a feudal territorial struggle became a multilateral conflict with connections across the continent through alliances and proxy battles. The introduction provides an overview of the traditional Anglo-French history of the conflict, before then arguing for an expansive approach to the period that attends to transnational diplomatic ties, proxy battles and ideological justifications. Reconsidering what the Hundred Years War was and what it did calls for a new conceptualisation of the relationship between war and medieval literary culture. After critical overviews of how literary scholars within and beyond medieval studies have approached the role of war as a context for literature, the introduction closes with an analysis of Charles d'Orléans’s lyric persona.

in Literatures of the Hundred Years War