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Society, allegory and gender
Author: S. H. Rigby

This book on Geoffrey Chaucer explores the relationship between Chaucer's poetry and the change and conflict characteristic of his day and the sorts of literary and non-literary conventions that were at his disposal for making sense of the society around him. Critics who consider the social meaning of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales fall into two main schools: those who present his social thought as an expression of the dominant spirit or ideology of his day and those who see Chaucer as possessing a more heterodox voice. Many of the present generation of Chaucer critics have been trained either as 'Robertsonians' or as 'Donaldsonians'. For D. W. Robertson, even those medieval poems which do not explicitly address religious issues were frequently intended to promote the Augustinian doctrine of charity beneath a pleasing surface; for E. Talbot Donaldson, there are 'no such poems in Middle English'. The book sets out the basics of the Augustinian doctrine of charity and of medieval allegorical theory and examines 'patristic' interpretations of Chaucer's work, particularly of the 'Nun's Priest Tale'. It looks at the humanist alternative to the patristic method and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the patristic approach. The book also outlines some of the major medieval discourses about sexual difference which inform Chaucer's depiction of women, in particular, the tendency of medieval writers to polarise their views of women, condemning them to the pit or elevating them to the pedestal.

S. H. Rigby

, Chaucer takes our sinfulness for granted and is more interested in ‘the marvellous variety of life in a world which, however sinful, is the only world we’ve got’. For Robertson, even those medieval poems which do not explicitly address religious issues were frequently intended to promote the Augustinian doctrine of charity beneath a pleasing surface; for Donaldson, there are ‘no such poems in Middle

in Chaucer in context
The abjection of the Middle Ages
Thomas A. Prendergast and Stephanie Trigg

discovery and rather forcefully suggests that scholars might do well to attend to the manuscript context of medieval poems before making assertions about their literary, historical, religious or even generic qualities. 14 The story is irresistible both because it seems to demonstrate the delightful horror of academic error (as long as it doesn’t happen to us) and demonstrates how academic discipline

in Affective medievalism
Open Access (free)
Daniel C. Remein and Erica Weaver

's ‘static, heroic masculinity’. All told, this volume thus contends that the intimacies in Beowulf – textual, narrative, characterological, formal, linguistic, cultural, and so forth – escape the intimate, charged confines of an early medieval poem that will probably remain – perhaps paradoxically – anonymous and undated. In addition to addressing ongoing, crucial questions about the interpretation or function of the poem, then, these chapters ultimately give us a Beowulf whose relationship status will always display ‘it's complicated’, but which

in Dating Beowulf
Abstract only
Gillian Rudd

makes much nature writing so resilient to critical interpretation. Oerlemans makes his argument with regard to the writing of the Romantics (prose, shorter poems and sections within longer narrative texts) but the questions of focus and interpretation he raises are thrown into greater relief when, as with the medieval poems under discussion here, we are dealing with free-standing lyrics that are often anonymous, frequently without certain date and usually without a known precise reason for their composition. In this they are most like found objects: they do not need

in Greenery
Tim William Machan

medieval Scandinavians. In place of regnal genealogies and migration myths, he uses imagery that stresses raw and starkly drawn emotional power of a kind that recalls Frithjof’s saga , a wildly popular pseudo-medieval poem of the early nineteenth century that was translated many times, including by the Robert Latham who wrote so much about Norway. 12 ‘I am the God Thor’, begins one of Longfellow’s poems: I am the War God, I am the Thunderer Here in my Northland, My fastness and fortress, Reign I forever! Here amid icebergs Rule I the nations

in Northern memories and the English Middle Ages
Andrew Higson

-budget British version Robin Hood (1990); the American blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), starring Kevin Costner; and Mel Brooks’s spoof Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). A further eighteen films were adapted from an assortment of other literary sources, from the medieval to the postmodern. Medieval poems and letters and the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe accounted for The Wanderer

in Medieval film
The implications of mobility
Daniel Birkholz

being forgotten. Chapter 1 thus also concerns how, under the pressure of historicist methodological tastes (New and old), one kind of literary anonymity, the anonymity of unestablished authorship, can breed another: the anonymity of provincial inconsequence. Below we will examine how the cultural meanings and artistic valuation of some reportedly slight medieval poems have been affected by trends in post-medieval literary study. All texts are subject to the vagaries of reception, but the Harley items analysed here have found themselves unusually susceptible to

in Harley manuscript geographies
Joshua Davies

cultures, are able to flourish 54 54 Visions and ruins across time and remake the past and make the future in their own image. As in the case of Detroit, ruination can be the result of political will, and the contemplation of ruins, of the twenty-​first century city or the early medieval poem, can mitigate as well as express, as Derrida would have it, the ruins of one’s own self. So the poem provides a shock of historical depth to Temple’s images, a historical depth that emphasises common humanity rather than race, class or precise historical context. The sense of

in Visions and ruins
Joshua Davies

as belonging in an abjected past. Locating Beowulf in the modern world Racial, ethnic and nationalist readings and uses of medieval culture are present in the disciplinary history of medieval studies as well as the political and creative archive of the Middle Ages.77 Indeed, the discipline of medieval studies developed alongside the birth of nationalist thinking and the two are inextricably linked. This is seen clearly in the early scholarly history of the Old English poem known as Beowulf, during which the early medieval poem was used to secure the identity of a

in Visions and ruins