readers. At the same time, working
with material such as Chaucer’s poetry, the works of the Pearl
poet and Langland will show that green concerns are not
restricted to texts that deal exclusively and obviously with
human/non-human nature relations. That is not to say that green
analysis of less well-known material should not be done, merely
that it is not done here.
Which brings us to the question: what is ecocriticism?
Rebecca Douglass has provided a succinct definition in her article
‘Ecocriticism and MiddleEnglishLiterature’ where she says:
‘ecocriticism is reading
Englishliterature’, in James Graham-Campbell, Richard Hall, Judith Jesch, and David N. Parsons (eds), Vikings and the Danelaw: Select Papers from the Proceedings of the Thirteenth Viking Congress (Oxford: Oxbow, 2001), p. 345.
28 Eleanor Parker, ‘Siward the Dragon-slayer: Mythmaking in Anglo-Scandinavian England’, Neophilologus 98 (2014), 481–493; and Richard Cole, ‘British perspectives’, in J. Glauser, P. Hermann, and S. A. Mitchell (eds), Handbook of Pre-modern, Nordic Memory Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches , 2 vols (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2018), vol. 1
. 36–8; Sarah McNamer, Affective Meditation and the Invention of Medieval Compassion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), pp. 58–85; Anne Derbes, Picturing the Passion in Late Medieval Italy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 1–11; A.S. Lazikani, Cultivating the Heart: Feeling and Emotion in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century Religious Texts (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2015), pp. 1–24; Nicole Rice, Lay Piety and Religious Discipline in MiddleEnglishLiterature (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 1
Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida and literary defacement
For translations of these texts, see The
Chronicles of Dictys of Crete and Dares the Phrygian , trans.
R. M. Frazer (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1966).
For the whole later medieval tradition, see C.
D. Benson, The History of Troy in MiddleEnglishLiterature:
. Spurgeon, Five Hundred Years of Chaucer Criticism
and Allusion, 1357–1900 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1960), 2
vols; D. S. Brewer (ed.), Chaucer and Chaucerians: Critical Studies in
MiddleEnglishLiterature (London: Nelson, 1970); Alice S. Miskimin,
The Renaissance Chaucer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975);
Ann Thompson, Shakespeare’s Chaucer: A Study in Literary Origins
(Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1978); E. Talbot Donaldson,
The Swan at the Well: Shakespeare Reading Chaucer (New Haven
and London: Yale University Press, 1985); Seth Lerer, Chaucer
-creating the Gospel narrative. Palm Sunday was widely depicted on church walls and lavish manuscripts; its texts reverberated in MiddleEnglishliterature; and its performance was re-created in civic processions. What makes the day even more significant for the study of biblical mediation is the fact that this memorable biblical story does not lend itself easily to liturgical re-enactment. Liturgical processions were made to emulate Christ’s reception at the outskirts of Second-Temple Jerusalem in the towns and villages of medieval Europe. Transforming the biblical event
Sounding The House of Fame in Troilus and Cressida
bursts out of ‘his foule trumpes ende’
Blak, bloo, grenyssh, swartish red,
As doth where that men melte led,
Loo, al on high fro the tuel …
And hyt stank as the pit of helle.
Allas, thus was her shame yronge,
And gilteles, on every tonge.
Thus are the praiseworthy heralded. Military cannonfire sounds
suburban smelting; a trumpet rings out shame on every tongue.
Sonic distinction is confounded further by the conflation of the
Last Judgement wake-up call with what must surely rank as the
stinkiest fart in all MiddleEnglishliterature.107 A set
oath-book becomes even more complex as we note that the church of Mere was one of the few to possess a Gospel book, described as old and worn (‘item liber evangeliorum vetus et attritus’). The connection between this oath-book and the text of the Gospels cannot therefore be taken for granted.
Evidence of oath-books is rare, leaving one to wonder how to reconcile references for Gospel books, the liber of courtrooms and the missals and breviaries recalled in MiddleEnglishliterature. Thirteenth- and fourteenth-century oath-books would have
between lovers and between parents and their children.33
It is, perhaps, because the hand is such a powerful agent, so
indispensable to human action, that its value is so troublesome to
calibrate. Trouble for taxonomists, however, creates opportunity
for literary writers. Before turning to Chaucer’s manipulation of
the unruly discursiveness of the hand, in part as a prefatory contrast to that work, I want to conclude this section with some of the
most hauntingly sublime moments in all MiddleEnglishliterature.
In each, the touch of a hand, a hand that could be capable
nine; the French used enfant for boys
under twelve and girls under seven. In MiddleEnglishliterature, the
words ‘child’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘infant’
were in widespread use by the late fourteenth century. While both could
have a general use, like the modern-day ‘girl’ or
‘kid’, they were more specifically applied to cover the ages
up to puberty, with ‘infaunt’ becoming used in the fifteenth