William Morris’s News from Nowhere and Chaucer’s dream visions
John M. Ganim
John Ganim unpacks William Morris’s eroticised but anxious politics in News from Nowhere. Ganim highlights the significance of the emotional attachment to environment in the formulation of Morris’s utopia. He also considers the enabling influence of the medieval dream vision, especially Chaucer’s, for promoting ‘psychological experience and fantasy’. Both themes illuminate Morris’s conflicted approach to subjects that caused him discomfort due to his perverse familial situation.
This chapter argues that certain films with medieval themes and settings, mostly dating from the 1940s to the 1960s, demonstrate a surprising affinity with the themes and techniques associated with film noir. The romanticism of medieval films may be regarded as a virtual antidote to the cynicism and nihilism of film noir. Film theory has also drawn some implicit parallels between medieval films and noir. Medieval historical movies and crime films share a certain generic status in cinematic taxonomies. Film noir historians have always attempted to distinguish between earlier crime films and the unique characteristics of films noir. German expressionism is one of the most widely cited sources for film noir, especially given the exile of so many fugitive film-makers from Nazi Germany in Hollywood. But German expressionist film is also one of the tributaries of high-art medieval movies.
This chapter pays tribute to David Lawton, a pioneer and leading scholar in the field of voice studies in Middle English. Over the course of the past 40 years David Lawton has produced scholarship of continued relevance. From his earliest work on alliterative poetry to his recent edition of Chaucer, he has pioneered editorial innovations. At the same time, his work on narratology has both deployed and questioned the structuralist turn. His attention to otherness and empire engaged the postcolonial condition before it had a name. His work on theology and religious history prefigured a critical religious studies.