Conference Session

I went to a conference session that sounded fascinating from the title. The presenter, however, decided to talk about something else. It wasn’t particularly interesting. Having talked to experts, I am not sure it has validity. But I wrote about it anyway because I was blogging the conference.

The only thing that was interesting about the talk was the handout, which may or may not have been related to what the presenter said they would talk about originally. I don’t know. The presenter did NOT talk about the handout or anything having to do with the handout. He didn’t even mention the handout. However, he handed out the handout and it was the most interesting part of the presentation.

See how Aubrey Beardsley’s is clearly a baby and is not significantly different from Wells’ hand drawing for The War of the Worlds. The resemblance is even more striking if the Crea drawing for the work is examined. (Apparently no net copies exist of the drawing at this time.)

I wonder if the reason/explanation behind folks’ inability to see babies before birth as human is connected to the visual presentations of Martians with Wells. Have we had fetus as invader imprinted on our psyches from a science fiction author’s appropriation of the image of a baby before birth to illustrate the evil invading aliens? Was that his purpose?

Is that what you see when you look at the two pictures together?

I think this may be one of the most influential examples of verbal rhetoric ever in the history of mankind. I wonder if Wells intended just this end.

I’m Not Dead Yet: OE Elegies

In live blogging this conference, I am following the conventions for conference blogging.

I’m Not Dead Yet: OE Elegies

“Thrilling Fears and Painful Beauty: Gothic Roots in OE Elegies” (original title)
now “Sublime Transitions in OE Elegies”
Kathleen M. Reinbold, California Institute of Arts

anachronistic to compare to 18th C?
notion of sublime bridges gap between OE and Gothic
OE had a connection to eternal and human emotion
Gothic used supernatural and effects of nature on soul.
Gothic acts inwards, sees outwards, raises mind upwards.
This links Gothic lit to Exeter Book elegies.

Focus on The Wanderer. Can be applied to all OE elegies.

comprehensive treatise on sublime:
Edmund Burke Philosophical Inquiry into Sublime and Beauty

3 causes:
exterior
interior
nature

emotional effects of sublime: fear, grief, curiosity, wonder, joy
pain is the most powerful human emotion (said Burke)
anything that works with terror or pain is sublime.
Pain raises us beyond human kind.

“sublime raises the soul above the height of the vulgar commonplace” Kant

majority of scholars acknowledge transition that speaker undergoes
undergoes transition and recognizes earthly treasure ephemeral and says treasure should be in heaven

AJ Bradley compares to Piers Plowman and Pearl
saved from despair by consciousness of God’s responsibility

Believe the journey to the transition is as important as the change.
Inwards, outwards, upwards.
Sublimity of poem’s setting.
Meditative atmosphere that compels human mind:
sea

sublime elements:
sea itself (things of great dimensions) Burke and Kant both identify sea
time of year (winter) and nature of sea, vastness and infinity
–tendency to fill mind with horror
–eye not being to see bounds, becomes emotionally infinite
time of day and solitude – solitary, travels path of exile, deprived of native land
–Burke classifies solitude and silence as depravations to humanity (absolute, not temporary)
–entire life of solitude is terror-developing

line 111 indicates internal monologue
perpetual silence broken by seabird calls

Burke explains that such sounds are capable of conveying great ideas.

Depth of speaker’s despair in line 8.
morning = before dawn, combined with wonder and despair
waking dreams?

wretched and sad, winter sad: waking vision of former companions
realizing it’s a vision, struck with a deeper sense of loss

1-57 personal experience
58-115 transient power of earthly treasures

defines himself as a solitary earth-walker

begins as a self-pitying, self-focused character

Burke says loss focuses mind.
exterior forces breaks the wanderer away (gulls and their cries)
authenticity of his melancholy—almost with surprise notes

realizes nothing in this world will end despair

defines traits that make a wise man
defines a good warrior
defines someone who can look ahead

Burke says meditating on fall of great people and cultures, can create a delight blended with uneasiness.
transience is “delightful melancholy

human death is part of the creator’s plan.
This is another turning point.
Emphasized by speaker’s pause.
Passionately laments the loss of his companions, because he finally realizes his grief kept him from consolation.
All things on earth end, even suffering.

Final transition from whiny who waits for God’s mercy
to wise man who is spurred to actively seek mercy

opens this to the audience experience of the sublime
to discussion of tragic experiences

“The Failure of Worldly Wealth in The Wanderer and The Seafarer”
Holly Hamby

a portion of her dissertation (on almsgiving)
bypassing scholarship

scope of criticism is extensive, yet one aspect shared by these two is not explored. Worldly wealth as given by lords (gift-giving) and the need to turn attention to heavenly treasure.

Purpose of highlighting theme of transitory earthly wealth:
negative exempla of secular gift-giving

importance of kings to give material goods as alms… moving to give gifts and alms… not just for secular purposes (such as pursuit of fame) but also for sacred

negative exemplum against secular exchange of gifts
alms and giving to church is not mentioned at all
absence of almsgiving is central to the poem (REALLY? something not there is the main point?)

Exeter Book argues about generosity.
How does The Wanderer match that?

Kept by lord for own personal reasons.
Nothing spoken of in terms of almsgiving (Guthlac, the Phoenix).
lord gift’s to retainers is transitory

genre classification is difficult

penitential? No mention of repentance anywhere.
But it is ascetic and reminiscent of the desert fathers of the early church.

quotes about sorrowful life and traveling from place to place
loss of lord who is a dispenser of treasure
severity of loss “all joy has died” is based on not getting any gifts
seems an exaggeration of his emotions, when he says he has lost everything
excess emotion, overemphasis on overdependence on earthly gifts

l. 34 dreaming, waking dreaming
gift-seat l. 44b
speaker awakens from dream: rude reality from kingly generosity
earthly lord must be generous

l. 88a presumably the voice of the wanderer
Questions. l. 92
Where have the horse and the youth (young warrior) gone? Third is the giver of treasure.

The Seafarer
speaker often characterized as a monk
more explicit in lord’s gift-giving, does not help one reach eternal life

on gaining fame on earth and in heaven for giving the church gifts
l. 12b-16

l. 35bff “tossing of the salt-seas I seek for myself” through 47
earthly success may cause a man to forget his purpose, man at sea is in no such danger

quote 7 is all about how trust in worldly things does not work. Not an aspect of someone on a journey to God.

10 lines, generosity is discussed 4 times.

“days are departing, / all pomps of earth’s kingdom”
there are not now kings nor caesars
nor gold-givers such as there once were”

focuses on end of most powerful men on earth

implicit example on how not to give

l. 85 begins with behavior that are not appropriate
83b-98b

45 lines of listing ways that the old ways do not work
Christian propaganda
focus on practices which are not appropriate for one seeking eternal fame

97-102 burial, grave goods = not aiding souls full of sins

l. 123 God is thanked for honoring humans with future faith.

mss context
The Wanderer not “marred” with Christian work. Stresses that nobles should give appropriately in order to reach heaven.

Richard Gancy
“It Has its Ghostliness: A Heroic Challenge in Wulf and Eadwacer Translation”

1. plot and theme
2. who? character
3. interpretation

Poem does not answer those three questions.
Poem becomes a labor of individual championship.
Body of criticism allows students to come up with new uses of poems.
updated interpretations

critical history, challenge by the female speaker which expresses her place

Adams as eadwacer as property guardian
Bishop —
Peter S. Baker
Mary Jane = writes on one word only

Adams: unknown author, unknown intentions

George K. Anderson = woman as captive in a foreign land

sexual tension in the poem
domestic triangle
more than mere suggestion of physical passion
drama makes three: woman, Wulf (lover), and Eadwacer (husband)
love triangle view is the prevailing view, most functional view
But what the characters are doing is confusing?

women’s love lyrics = sexual desire (Lois Bragg)
explains her earnest expressions

l. 16 is she addressing her husband?

A-S tradition of avoiding sex.
So it is subversive.

she is beset with anguish, grieving for a missing man.

l. 9-15 anguish with which woman speaks is “unparalleled” in OE works

feminine discourse—don’t leave the poem to be adopted by traditional works

so subversive
woman

The Wife’s Lament and/v. Wulf and Eadwacer in class?

poem about pain.

Walter Nash– it has its ghostliness. It figures like a wraith out of another time.

first look at anguish = fear for safety of Wulf This seems to be related to sublime that first speaker spoke of.

Wulf is on an island. I am on another.
refers to death of lover
has a refrain (only other one is in Deor, immediately before Wulf and Eadwacer)

most critics agree that the lady is in anxiety over the separation from someone she cares about

flashback section of the poem
details the waiting of the lady for visits from Wulf during his far wanderings

second look at anguish is expectation
looking at past experiences
when his return was impeded, rain shows up (sky weeps while lady wails), she is sorrowful

woman has sexual experience with the one brave in battle
Peter S. Baker says it was joy and loathsome
physical pleasure and concurrent misery of absence of Wulf

anguish of lament
sets the woman within A-S experience

She is isolated on an island opposite Wulf. Addresses the property guardian.

Question: Is it possible that Wulf was her husband and her adulterous affair with the brave battle guy is why she is on the island? Can she be talking to the “property guardian” who watches her?

Jane Chance, if a woman does not make peace, she must make war
pejorative cast to this behavior
women are considered unchaste, with devil, described as a ruler
Grendel’s mother, inversion of peace weaver
The lady fits such an inversion perfectly.
Wulf = outlaw? (Name?)

Question:
Do lines 11 and 12 really describe Wulf? the outlaw…
loathsome part?

Answer:
first half of line is the companionship
second half is position

One of the sources discusses the property watcher as a prison guard.
Rape?

Riddle? Is this poem a riddle?

Question:
reading of something as her anger, how frequently that one shows up
in the Battle of Maldon also shows up
the challenge in line 16 (Do you hear me?)

Have you looked at this word elsewhere?

Question:
various levels that the sublime works in the poem
driven by the narrator or nature?

Answer:
One speaker.
Sublime works on two levels: one on the narrator and one in the poem itself. What type of sublime was happening between the scop and the audience itself? There was supposed to be an emotional reaction.

(pathos in A-S works)

poetry combined with music or chant, was supposed to raise audience to the sublime

Question:
recurring theme of transience of earthly treasure

Answer:
Christ starts as alms-giver and alms

Guthlac A repeats alms all the time

Most people view the Exeter Book as a miscellany.
Maybe it’s about Christian, pastoral book. Working book.

Question:
How do you know the audience at the time would read it as teaching?

Answer:
homilies, lots of homilies
whole section on what defines alms
Exeter Book was referred to as discussing alms.

Always in the hands of monks.
Monks used it as a teaching tool.

Bishop Cinnamon could have educated kings.
educating nobles

Didacted nobles.

Question:
Who is the audience?

Answer:
monks
educated nobles

Guthlac A = sections where he specifically says, it’s important to listen to the people educating you.
whole section with œmonks gone wild, monks behaving badly. The devils are trying to tempt Guthlac. They are young. They will grow wise and will learn how to treat alms correctly.
Seems to speak to nobles and to monks both.

Question:
What about sexual riddles?

Answer:
Maybe a way to draw people in.

21st C Medievalisms

In live blogging this conference, I am following the conventions for conference blogging.

Twenty-First Century Medievalism: Re-envisioning the Medieval in the Contemporary World
Sponsor: Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture and the Middle Ages
Organizer: Michael A. Torregrossa, Virtual Society for the Study of Popular Culture
and the Middle Ages
Presider: Mikee Delony, Abilene Christian University

Siegfried the Volk-Song: Examining the Interpretations of Siegfried the Dragon- Slayer and the Making of a National History
Peter H. Johnsson, San Francisco State Univ.

Analysis of Arthurian Film Reviews
Laurie Rizzo, Univ. of Delaware

Beowulf in the Twenty-First Century
Suanna H. Davis, Houston Community College: Central

Siegfried the Volk-Song: Examining the Interpretations of Siegfried the Dragon-Slayer and the Making of a National History
Peter H. Johnsson, San Francisco State Univ., beginning at the University of Toronto in the fall

recent MA grad

Slightly hyperbolic title doesn’t match the truncated version of the paper.
Examining various incarnations of the myth of Siegfried the Dragon-Slayer. Names vary, but I will stick with one. Two medieval verisions, Wagner’s opera, 21st C version.

Repeatedly becomes a platform to use the authority of the story… not from a desire to be true to original story.
What is it about the myth that makes it so available for appropriation?

Siegfried slays the dragon Fafnir and receives the dragon’s treasure (and some supernatural power). Becomes entangled with a Valkyrie named Brunhilde. Also involved with the Burgundian family. The Burgundians kill Siegfried. Then they are turned by Attila the Hun.

Often perceived as having relevance to actual events in 6th C. No early versions are available. Viking runestones mention it (Western Sweden has oldest rune stone.) 13th C is when versions appear. Most influential came from Iceland and near Vienna.

Icelandic:
Siegfried is a model for kings. Wise and capable warrior. Keep temper in conflict.
Witchcraft and poison kills Siegfried = never trust a beautiful woman.

Germanic:
Epic poem where Siegfried is a negative character. Supposed to be a chivalric knight, but has no limits to what he will do for his lord.
Siegfried courts the bride for his lord and then consummates the marriage when his lord cannot.
Hero’s downfall is linked to him having chosen to be a chivalric knight. (Commentary on the changing culture.)

Without the moral message, the story loses impact. But the absence of the moral message is exactly what characterizes the modern versions.

Wagner:
becomes a noble savage
ruled by emotions, has no social knowledge
though grown up, referred to as a child and a boy, child-like innocent
The story becomes more fantastical without the moral message(s) of earlier works.

Shaw saw Wagner’s work, esp. Siegfried, as a warning against the industrialization and capitalization of society. Siegfried can be explained within this as a product of his extreme innocent nature. In this way he is associated with early Germanic peoples (and their popularity).

After WWII plummeted in popularity.

2004 saw the first title since 1929… Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King hit theaters in 2006. Lots of leather and chain mail with strong elements of Norse paganism. Gives the illusion of being closer to the sixth century than the medieval texts.

Moral message of the story is really about barbaric culture (Brunhilde) and the dilettante Christian culture (Burgundian princess). Brunhilde becomes the champion of the pagan ways (honor above all) and tries to rescue Siegfried from the love triangle. Brunhilde gives him a Viking warrior burial, with an Icelandic poem. Strong anti-Christian message.

Anti-Christian isn’t a surprise.

But the gods are replaced by explainable phenomena.
Siegfried claims he doesn’t believe in gods or kings (“takes more than a crown to make a man a king”).
Adds a veil of pseudo-history.
The opening of the museum in 2001 shows myth from fact… Associations of the city with the story helps make the “real historical artifacts” part of the story.

Blurring of wall between myth and history is not new. Direct re-incarnation of 18th and 19th C ideals. 21st C version builds on earlier distortions of late versions.

“Theme is timeless and universal” (movie director)…
Platform for social commentary as idyllic past to influence direction of the future.

Analysis of Arthurian Film Reviews
Laurie Rizzo, Univ. of Delaware

works as librarian

“Jerry Zucker’s movie is a travesty of Arthurian legend, but so is every Camelot movie.” Anthony Lane

92 Arthurian themed films.

Film reviews of Arthurian feature-length films.
Why film reviews?
Act as metatext for the film. Often first contact for the public with the film. Show how the film may be perceived.

From 1967-present day there have been 92 films based on the following criteria: only those set in medieval times, only American films (released or aired), not animated, no time travel, had to be presented as Arthurian story.
That left 14 films.

Chose films, read 200 reviews.
24 for Camelot
22 for Excalibur
x for First Knight
66 for King Arthur

Explanatory comments:
Found that all the reviews repeatedly talked about six categories.

Primary sources:
That is, the sources from which the movie’s events were said to have come.
Critics always criticized the film in this, even when they weren’t acquainted with the source. Sometimes the critics indicated their lack of familiarity.
Even without familiarity, the critics still criticized the film for not being faithful AND provided explanations for why the film might not have been faithful.
1. so many versions of the story
2. not enough info about time period
3. just a legend anyway
4. director’s obligation to add own interpretation

Missing elements:
Critics were very specific and consistent about what kinds of elements were missing.
missing characters, missing story lines, arcs of story
An Arthurian film requires: Lancelot, Guinevere, Arthur,
but also: Merlin, Morgan leFay, Elaine (Elaines and Ibis), Percival, Galahad, Orkney boys,
not missed: Ector, Kay, Constantine, Lucius

story lines: Holy Grail, Christianity, must have magic, chivalry, love triangle (must have chemistry and must consummate the love), Camelot at its height/finest,

iconic images: must see sword pulled from stone, must have knights at the round table
point of view: flexible–did not have to follow one character per se
focus of story: flexible, though usually think of Arthur as main focal point

Character Portrayals:
The critics gave reasons why they reacted favorably or not to actor’s interpretations.
King Arthur–idealistic, peace keeper, grand dreamer of equality, noble, majestic, good humored, fair, likable, commanding figure, good general– should be extraordinary
want to see him transition from boyhood to manhood
Guinevere–cipher (used the term consistently), looks pretty but does little, want her to be more than beautiful, mercurial, moody, noble, enchanting, vulnerable, bitchy –They want her to be inconsistent.
Lancelot–heroic, athletic, virtuous, French (or at least speak with a British accent), noble

The most interestingly was critics’ feelings about the Knights of the Round Table– want the knights fleshed out, deep character portrayals, doesn’t seem to matter how faithful the portrayal is–just want a “real” character.

Themes:
extrapolated?
often compared to the legends
dramatic shifts between the films
Camelot (rise and fall of Camelot)
Excalibur (magic giving way to Christianity)
The First Knight (Love = weakness, and democratic freedom)

Film Medium:
high expectation
epic, enduring story
films are repeatedly story for diminishing the characters and plot
“oversimplify the characters and plot”
recognize hard to create good film

Time period:
accuracy?
scenery, costumes, dialogue, battles
locations were pretty–scenery
costumes less a consensus- Reflect a specific time period or be ambiguous? But should feel authentic.
battles– epic, bloody, understandable (bar raised after Braveheart and Lord of the Rings), battles considered boring and bloodless, lack of blood in the battles– thought it would help them understand if there was blood
dialogue–not contemporary, should evoke feeling of medieval, but not cliched or anachronistic

Conclusion:
film reviews across time
How people view Arthurian legends…
Consistent aspects that are intrinsic. Relevance of films to the modern era.

Recommendations for Further Research:
go back to Knights of the Round Table (1957)
do the time travel films (not just Connecticut Yankee)
do same on animated
do same on Tristan and Isolde
Interesting to original release reviews and retrospective reviews.
This was especially clear with Monty Python’s Holy Grail and Excalibur. Monty Python movie a cult classic and Excalibur was not well received at time, but comparatively is seen as a great film.

Gender and Marriage in Medieval English Lit

In live blogging this conference, I am following the conventions for conference blogging.

Gender and the Dynamics of Marriage in Medieval English Literature
Sponsor: Oregon Medieval English Literature Society (OMELS)
Organizer: Danna Voth, Univ. of Oregon, and Debbie M. Killingsworth, Univ. of
Oregon Presider: Stephen Patrick McCormick, Univ. of Oregon

Margery Kempe’s Revision of the Symbolic Capital of Social and Religious Marriage
Christine-Anne Putnam, Univ. of Colorado

Medieval Women Reading Women: The Heroine and Her Marriage in the Middle English Story of Asneth
Hannah Zdansky, Univ. of Notre Dame

Companionate Marriage and Clerical Mediation as a Means to Salvation in Passus IX and X
Debbie M. Killingsworth
On shuttle, which is late.

Citizen Medea: Marriage as Nation-Building in John Lydgate’s Troy Book
Katarzyna Maria Rutkowski, Univ. of California–Los Angeles

Margery Kempe’s Revision of the Symbolic Capital of Social and Religious Marriage
Christine-Anne Putnam, Univ. of Colorado

PhD student

Talking about Margery Kempe, referring to her queering of the symbolic capital.
In her text, in a tense locale. Affords compelling argument of lay folks to become both central and marginal.
The situation should force her to marginality; however, she moves between the center and the margin. She thus becomes a disruption.

Field disruption… looking at the queer… that which is disrupting and that which is central and marginal.

1. MK’s situation in her field of production entails that she must appropriate and spend symbolic capital (marriage).
2. Her appropriation is queer. (Bodily representations of virginity)

Queer definition: Lofton “names more than erotic interest, more than a sexual orientation–disavowed but necessary”
Deviant that is intrinsically central to the system it supports.

Calls her Margery all the time. Thought this was disrespectful. Why is this appropriate?

Secular marriage is always seen as secondary and inferior.
MK’s idea is wrapped up in her body and her sexual relations.

Her acceptance and enjoyment of sexual relations pit MK against the boundaries that the church attempts to support.
Symbolic capital of marriage…
approval v. disapproval
MK’s moving among the centrality and marginality.
Needed to appropriate virginity.

Hierarchy =
1. virginity
2. chaste widow
3. chaste wife

Physical virginity was not enough. Spiritual chastity was required by the church as well.
Virginity shifted to a moral and spiritual aspect of life.
As a married woman, with twelve children, she would not be intact bodily.
However, option of inclusion seems possible here. Spiritual virgin was not enough. Wanted to be a bodily virgin as well.
Physical intactness placed positive capital on female body.
Consecrated women were deemed sacrosanct. Regarded, recruited, and cannonized as virgins.
Lay women were not kept isolated.

MK needs to be connected with the chaste saints.
She has option to live within a chaste marriage. (Such as in St Cecilia)
Key is that the divine plays an integral part in Cecilia’s divine virginity–the angel that will strike him dead if he takes her virginity.

The force that seals MK’s vow of chastity is her purse.
“Grant me that you will not come in my bed… I will quit you of your debts…”
Exchange of money for her chasteness.
Individual woman has ability to purchase her body if she wishes.
She has purchased her body from her husband and symbolically acquired social capital.

White clothes is a symbol of sexual and religious status.
MK wearing white symbols a disjunction between her desire and her place in society.
Her appropriation of the white clothing is a problem.

Jesus tells her to wear white. But she says she will be slandered and people will call her a hypocrite.
Significant difference between virgins and chaste wives.
Her clothes directly challenged the priesthood.

Her contemporaries contest her clothing.
She has not been approved and known by the bishop.
He does, however, give in to the request.
Her use of the symbolic capital is questioned by the mayor: “You have come to take our wives away.”

Her appropriation of her white clothes point to a disjunction between sacrament of marriage and the divine perfection of virginity.

MK is asked if she is a maiden? She says no.
Her ability to enter into the group of consecrated virgins and to be a wife and mother, she is regarded as exterior to the group but still allowed and recognized for her white clothes and her place within the group.

Mode of analysis allows us to see and understand the queer, those included and then excluded, within the medieval world.

Medieval Women Reading Women: The Heroine and Her Marriage in the Middle English Story of Asneth
Hannah Zdansky, Univ. of Notre Dame

works in Middle English

Asneth was translated in 15th C.
May be a countess.
Only surviving mss dates 1450-1460. Two sisters are owners.
This manuscript may have been a gift.

The mss has two hands in script.
Has multiple women’s names in the margins.

ME Asneth part of the increase in texts paid for by women for women.

Asneth fell in love with Joseph. Converted to Judaism. Married Joseph.

10th C version translated into Middle English probably in Canterbury. (Much older text.)
“all the appeal of the saints’ lives”

Stands between religious and secular literature.
The milieu of Asneth same as French and German.
Story ends with an attempted abduction.
Romantic approach of Asneth could be an exemplum in two ways:
1. like saints’ lives (and women visionaries)
2. like Old Testament heroic women

placed in comparison to ME Susanna (from the apocryphal Old Testament)

Such works were in demand during 15th and 16th century.

Unlike other women visionaries, Asneth does not reject her physical union with Joseph.
Divine acceptance shows how human love and spiritual experience are intertwined.

First encounter Asneth in l. 47-51.
More than having remained chaste, she refuses unions, honoring her other gods.
Rejects union with Joseph, until she sees him.

Joseph is introduced in l. 194-200
Soon after we see him that he attracted “all fair females of Egypt” (l. 222-228).
He must follow Hebrew dietary law and doesn’t want to meet Asneth.
But when she found that she loved no man fleshly (l. 242), he changes his mind.

Asneth is introduced as strong and pious even before her conversion.
Because of this, she is rewarded with a strong, socially upward marriage.

Discussed how this is relevant as an exemplum for young women. If you are chaste and follow God, then you will be rewarded with a physical marriage which is both desirable (physically and socially) and approved by God.

Genesis 1:27 “God created.. male and female”

Adam was fulfilled by the creation of Eve.
Asneth’s story teaches this.
When Joseph comes to see Asneth after her conversion and his vision from God, he kissed her. She moves to wash his feet. “I will wash them, you are my dear lord” (v. 627).
“Thy feet are my own feet, your hands also mine as well/ And your soul is my soul” (l. 630-31).
The union of Asneth and Joseph is Edenic in quality.
Their union is one with God at the center, just as Adam and Eve’s.
The bond produced from such a relationship is strong and blessed.

The story notes that Asneth is congruent to Joseph, matching him in her following of God. (l. 659-61).

For an audience responding to Asneth, positive reaction.
Shows how a strong, intelligent woman could conduct herself.
They do not remain physically separate (“Joseph knew his wife and she conceived” l. 682).
There is suggestion that they engage in a chaste marriage, after they have “multiplied” as required by God. So procreation is a commitment, rather than a pleasure.
For both religious and practical women, a chaste union represented the opportunity to get both secular and religious capital.
Physically it would have been good for the women to not be continually pregnant.

Text is entertaining and religiously instructive.
Reminds of Proverbs 31 (virtuous woman) “woman to be praised.”

Represent the image of God in their union.
Human beings may strive to attain perfection in their present life as well.
Asneth and Joseph, in a chaste marriage, would be important as examples of hope for 15th C women. Supports both the social order and expectation of marriage.

Companionate Marriage and Clerical Mediation as a Means to Salvation in Passus IX and X
Debbie M. Killingsworth

pursuing her doctorate, queer theory and medieval theory

Langland represents both marriage and clerical desire.
Clergy and scripture marriage is infelicitous. Recalls the problem with authority and desire.
Comments on the culture’s concerns about the interactions of the clergy with the laity.
Marriage = mutual agreement of man and woman who live and work together
Relationship in the B Text is troubled (of clergy and scripture).

“to do well in this world is to live truly as is taught by the law”
The cannonade insists on mutual consent.
Asserts that the motivation for marrying should be love, not money or property.

Eve as helpmate is alluded to by his discussion of the wife.

“to work and win and the world sustain”

These conditions of mutual consent and love delineate a companionic marriage.
Stressed of word “folk” (unharmonious word, doesn’t fit nicely in the alliterative line) necessarily includes women, but differentiates between class and social power.
Man and woman together must toil and win the grace of God.
Shifts power to biblically up-to-God.
Reinforces scriptural authority in companionic marriage.

Interactions between scripture and clergy shows they are not in companionic marriage.
They do not speak to each other.
Langland separates them in different lines in the poem.

While we might worship them both, we meet clergy as the husband and then (after another wife) scripture is introduced.
Scripture speaks 97 lines later, indicating she is still in the room.
This large space (in the couple and in the speaking) indicates a lack of companionic marriage.

Union of scripture and clergy should cause problems with audience.
Scripture is the wife.
Wife should be under the authority of the clergy.
This is a problem with the presentation.

Clergy never speaks to Scripture. Doesn’t even refer to her, except as the text (memorization). No sense of intimacy.
Clergy doesn’t have companionic marriage.
Clergy has a different option.
Clergy can have paradise in a cloister or a school. Makes clear a desire for isolation rather than connection (marriage or even social community).
Clergy means secular clergy in the poem, that is those who live among the people. Yet Clergy’s idea of happiness is set in the books of the university and the cloister.
Clergy realizes that his definition of paradise implies that he cannot be in a strong marriage. So he says he is seeking more intimacy with books. But he is not loving Scripture and, therefore, not able to understand her.
Scripture answers Will’s question about Clergy’s sermon.
When Scripture says that she “knows not scorne” it relates to church’s admonition for women to be even deceptive in their correction of their husbands.

Scripture says she will not scorn them, but she does. She critiques both Will’s understanding and Clergy’s sermon. She is the written word of God. Her tone is shrewish. Her scorn of him indicates she feels little desire to be misread.

Lines of communication are disjointed between Clergy and Scripture.
Some of clergy was arguing against giving the Bible to the general populace.
By withholding Scripture from populace, the clergy turned it into an object, but saying they couldn’t understand it made it less important than the clergy–who were needed to translate it.

Langland reveals a further complication when he compares the application of Scripture in the story and the women who are wives within the book.
Wit’s body language reveals to Will how to gain Study’s favor.

Will understands he is to mimic Wit’s body language and attitude in order to get Study to help him.
Wit is respectful of Study. Will is not.

Scripture is meant to be the divine other.

Will’s apathy angers Scripture so that she castigates him in Latin without a translation.
“Many men know many things and don’t know themselves.” (what castigation says)
He loses communication here. She speaks to him, but cannot be understood.

For goals of Christianity to be met, clergy must be married to Scripture.
Scripture’s experience within companionic marriage is strong. But Clergy isolates her and does not understand her.

Reform, as Langland proposes it, requires inscribing Scripture with divine interpretation.
Companionic marriage mimics the union of humans as followers of God.
Scripture must retain her authority as the word of God, but her femininity shows that her authority has been mitigated. A situation that pollutes the meaning of the text.

Citizen Medea: Marriage as Nation-Building in John Lydgate’s Troy Book
Katarzyna Maria Rutkowski, Univ. of California–Los Angeles

How Gilbert Becket met and married a Saracen princess while on the Crusades. The marriage led to St. Thomas a Becket.

Becket’s cosmopolitan marriage makes foreign familiar.

Troy Book (1412-1420) shows foreign marriage as important to imperial development. Uses the failure to make the wife a citizen as an explanation for why the situation was not going to end well.

Henry was established in Lydgate’s epic (other work he was working on) as the king of France.
Lydgate responds to his patron’s needs by promoting companionic marriage. In short, he encourages Henry to “make love, not war.”
Focuses on Jason’s trip to the development of his relationship with Medea.

The romance between Jason and Medea reproduces the war’s causes in the microcosm of their marriage.
Henry was courting the French king’s daughter, Catherine.
14 June 1420– Henry agreed to marry Catherine without a dowry and consenting to give up French claim while remaining regent.
Lydgate hopes Catherine will bring “peace and quiet with the full ceasing of illness and pestilence.” This international marriage is essential for the imperial England. Hopes that Henry will reject the idea of Catherine as an example of his conquest and instead develop his relationship with Catherine as companionic marriage.

highlights Jason’s defects as a leader (power and pride)
contrasts them with Medea’s love
women as commodities “homologous to the trade of goods” encodes an asymmetry of marriage
Jason’s rejection of the marriage shows his defects because he 1. broke his marriage vow and 2. thereby his oaths to his own people.

engagement = betrothal
marriage = betrothal followed by consummation

Companionate marriage rose in stature.
Economic system created social capital that was significant through the companionate marriage.
Howell (Powell?) appropriated the language of love and desire and readily attached it to the language of friendship and social interaction.

Medea helps Jason win the golden fleece.
Medea does this because of her love and her experience as a companion in the marriage.

All the failing rulers in this story mess up their transnational social contracts (including companionate marriage).
Medea is the royal daughter who switches her alliance from her father to Jason because of her love. In this Lydgate supports Medea as a means of saving two nations. Casts her in his alternate ideal of companionate marriage and rule.

Henry was really into knighthood.
Lydgate stages it, but breaks it with the romance of Jason and Medea.
Shows Medea as a positive example of the pure motives needed in a companionate marriage. She desires his physical health and his life.

Martial law (law of Mars) shows that the hero is going to die. Medea tries to convince Jason to forego his main mission. He says he would rather die than live when his name is slain.
Lydgate says “For you I will set aside my birth of royal stock… My honor shall be cast aside.” Medea is aware of her choice and for love she renounces her claim to sovereignty. She decides to give new life to someone who has already disregarded her gift.

Lydgate casts Medea with an honorable presence. She was an innocent maid and wholly obeyed Jason’s desire and his lusts. Lydgate says Jason deceives Medea, with his false declarations of love. Her passivity evokes her sovereignty–ruling by a bond with those who are ruled.

Medea tries to get Jason to worship Venus (through their sexual experience). Contrasts with those who seek vain glory. Reveals herself to be an exemplum within this work. Proper sovereign.

Lydgate emphasizes Medea’s vengeance and problems, when she kills her own sons by Jason.

Later (in another book) Lydgate re-unites Medea and Jason, where they join together and set Medea’s father back on his throne.

Lydgate stresses that a positive king must abate the great cruelty that already exists in the war (between Troy and Greece OR France and England). The general public will gain peace and strong life. Lydgate creates a conjugal kingdom, reflected in a companionate marriage.

Questions:
Great papers.
Interested in the way you teased out the relationship between the Clergy and the Scripture. How did you determine the genders?

Answer:
Latin talks of Scripture as women and clergy as men. Also Langland refers to them as “he and she.”

Question:
Lot more idea of companionate marriage. Interesting to me within larger historical area seems later. Are larger histories of marriage being opened up? Or are we still looking at medieval as bad (and not love)?

Answer:
Martha Howell recuperating the idea of companionate marriage. Against the asymmetrical marriage discussion.

Question:
Do you see this outside medieval into larger?

Answer:
Howell does it from 12th C to 18th C. Not disjunctive but working together.

Question:
Idea that marriage in Anseth ends up chaste. Couple of problems with that. One side exemplary (agree with that) which creates a slight problem with the chaste marriage. The other side it seems that is a text of noble ideas of marriage. So how does this create a problem with chaste marriage?

Answer:
Defense: no way to prove that. Only has two children.
As soon as they get married, he knows his life. Here’s the procreation. Relationship continues, but has the tenor of religious devotion. Seems to suggest that chaste marriage is a possibility.

Both people are noble. But text highlights their religious devotion and piety. She protests until she sees him (very romantic), but his piety mirrors hers (even though she has not converted to Judaism).

Question:
Margery Kempe bartering away her body without any input from God. Doesn’t, at the point where the husband is trying to renegotiate, God tells her she can eat with him in response for her chastity in their marriage. Is this really a bartering without God?

Answer:
Trading her body for meat, literally.
Not want to suggest that there is no place of God in the situation/transaction.
But what happens in this place, there is no angel that’s going to interfere. No direct hand of God that is going to enforce her chastity.
Enters chaste marriage with husband, but then she has another child. Then God tells her to stop having children.
She is talking and conversing with God, but his hand is not separating them.
For Margery, highlighting the debt portion, economic debt and contractual debt (within marriage). She is now going to eat meat, but God is not isolating her himself. It is up to her to create her own chastity.

Old English Poetry: Q&A

Questions:
Like how you compare Wife’s Lament to Wanderer and Seafarer… Can’t find gender in the language.
If you look at the wanderer, everyone says we ought to control our feelings and so should I, but then goes on about how awful everything is and then breaks down. Laments the loss of companionship.

Answer:
Might hold those feelings back in The Wanderer.
Gender construction as a cultural structure, what counts as feminine? So the fact that she doesn’t say she needs to hold back.

Response:
Could be as simple as if a guy, has to say that you shouldn’t be emotional before you are.

Answer:
female is strong and has power. Can she be emotional and not have to discuss because she is woman or powerful?

Question:
Lament: wailing with weeping?

Answer:
No. Wailing with loud voice. People are supposed to hear the mourning.

Question:
In Beowulf (and Maxim I) Cain and Abel appear. In Beowulf it is unnecessary. Poet does not inherit that. Chooses to insert paradigm of bad brotherhood. Is brotherhood in Beowulf poisoned from the beginning because poet sets the paradigm of Cain and Abel?

Answer:
Yes.
Doesn’t want to say that there is something rotten, but wants to set up the problems.
Problem of younger brothers. (But Cain is older.)

Question:
Beowulf placed between the brothers. Wealtheow reminds Hrothgar of her sons. Wonder that Wealtheow speaking magnifies the anxiety around the brothers?

Answer:
Women are performing in the hall.
Freawaru doing the same thing later.
Wealtheow is “out of the way” by poet to emphasize the speech.
Something is wrong with the brothers. Simply age or capability. The brothers are vulnerable through their own lack or age. Mother needs to step in to protect them in a way that the poem is iffy about.

Question:
Wealtheow worried about power being given to Beowulf.
Worried that Hrothgar is giving away the house. Taking the kingship from her sons.

Answer:
Capability and power played a role in kingship.
Beowulf is the most successful king in the poem.
If he wanted to, he could take the Danish show, in the same way he doesn’t take the Geatish throne.
More capable than Hrothel. Definitely more capable than the two sons.

Question:
Caught by the phrase “gnomic ritual”
How do gnomes speak to rituals?

Answer;
Elaine… Hanson Solomon Complex
TA Shippey Wisdom and Learning
Wife’s Lament joins through gnomic ritual (Shumimori? Japanese name of scholar)

Reading The Wanderer, reminds me of Ecclesiastes.
Nothing new under the sun. Striving after the wind.
Esp. when younger, wisdom is “the right way.” How to do things properly.

Wisdom through gnomic wisdom is less practical.
Tells you to survive.
Doesn’t give you an answer for dealing with your problems.

Question: Beowulf better king? Poet says Hrothgar is better king.
Doesn’t end in glory (Beowulf).
Hrothgar will ultimately defeat his enemies.

Answer:
Attacks Beowulf’s countryside by a dragon.
Give Beowulf more forgiveness.

Question:
How about Wiglaf?
Wiglaf says don’t do this. Don’t be prideful. Gold goes back into the ground and is useless.

Answer:
Beowulf is capable of TAKING the throne, even if we don’t agree he is capable of keeping it.

Question:
Liked the snow and the childhood.
Could get the childhood out of Stevens’ poem and see how it gets stuck in the middle way.
Invoke a pathetic fallacy and then gradually strip away everything human.
“Course of a Particular” poem says “today a leaf cries” by Stevens also.
Can’t believe. Stuck in humanist condition.
Starts with Frosty human-snow man, but eventually only the human who becomes a snow man can speak.
Shifts in that way with that progression.
Not really a question.

Question:
Comfortably negotiate the poetic.
Sense of things you were trying to evoke.
Last paper takes on an awful lot. “15-minute genre”
Poetic out of Stevens…
Using Stevens to prove as poetic, but if you say something about Beowulf, you are up for grabs.
The whole poem is all in praise of Beowulf. Who is the dragon? Because sooner or later the evil comes even to destroy the “perfect” man.
Not a question.

Question:
significance of earth glory?

Answer:
Scandanavian myth as symbol of grave.
Can literally the woman be dwelling in a grave?
Lewster says not to read it so literally, read it metaphorically.

Response:
“to find ground in a sanctuary”
refuges for criminals in old pagan groves, under the oak
Grenheld’s Hell Ride (she has to dwell in grove after Odin doesn’t like her killing.)

Answer:
Freyja/goddess-figure
in the underworld calling back husband figure

Response:
sanctuary in the old groves
calling back a memory/history

Question:
to put the two poems in dialogue: conceiving of and giving voice to lament, sorrow in open versus closed space?

Answer:
Wife’s Lament, in an enclosed space
women wailing are public usually
but she is imagined in a private and enclosed space

Answer:
Wanderer possible reading poem of exile, in addition, also a speaker who is monastery or hermitage
enclosed space sense there
really outside the enclosed space; the enclosed space invoked is the mead hall from the day-dream/memory
enclosed space has to be settled or bury the dead memory in order to come back to an enclosed space which is metaphorical or allegorical which is the community of suffering

Response:
character in exile is focused on interior space
lamentation is focused on outside
Is there an inverse relation to where they are to what they are thinking of?

Answer:
Denmark is a prison- says Hamlet. Prison is in his mind. Feels trapped. Feels unable. At beginning wants to go back to school at Wittenberg. Wants to go back to a space where you are allowed to party and think and not take responsibility as a prince. He is forced to stay as part of courtly drama.

Question:
terminology in the excerpts
Why are brothers just called kinsman? Is it just variation?

Answer:
I think there is more going on than variation.
Poet is more willing to generalize than to specialize.
More important that there is a connection than what the connection is.
I’ve tried to total up variations of maeg or its variants and they are predominant.
Wonder if you can do hierarchical rather than horizontal relationships.
Do think there is something going on even if it isn’t totally clear now.

Response:
conflates comitatus relationship

Question:
50 years of service is plenty.
Ending on a rhetorical point; linked to but not understatement.
Beowulf says, “You killed your brother. You’re going to hell.”
Not just credibility.
Monster in the mere has a beautiful description of the monster but there is no detail. If there is some kind of horror around the idea of violation of kinslaying, invoking is delicate and allows the audience to imagine the full horror.

Answer:
aesthetic effect is to dangle
Poet can’t do it justice in the same way that your imagination can.
Would add to that the pointedness of putting it out there.
Put it out there so that the subject is raised but you don’t have to talk about it.
If there is a pattern here, it is an aesthetic/rhetorical (possibly cultural) presentation.

Question:
Let’s solve the issue of Unferth.
Unferth is a drunken lout to begin with but straightened out.
Silenced and gives up his sword to Beowulf.

Answer:
When Beowulf comes in, his next insult is that “if you were a better retainer, I wouldn’t have to be here.”
Crystallizes what Unferth should have done.

Response:
Also what Hrothgar should have done.
BUT he was a good king.

Old English Poetry: The Wife’s Lament

In live blogging this conference, I am following the conventions for conference blogging.

Reading Gender in The Wife’s Lament and Fantasies of Feminine Mourning in Anglo-Saxon Literature
Melissa Putman Sprenkle, Whitworth Univ.

Nature of the poem is highly ambiguous and highly contested.

Two points of interest:
feminine speaker
pagan elements in poem related to femininity

John Nulles “three feminine grammatical inflections”
10thC direct connection between Freyja (oak grove, sacred trees, etc) and speaker

Scholars have debated the genre of the work; speaker’s role (woman, goddess); ending (vengeance, teaching, elegy).
Emotionality = femininity
Jane Chance said shows emotion in criticism/contrast with male oaths and lack of emotional discussion (as in The Wanderer)

Such approaches suggest that the work is distinct from other works in the corpus.

Feminine emotionality -> intensity and emotional intimacy

Compare this work to elegies in Exeter
and compare with other 10thC vernacular mss

contiguities of emotional expression
See Beowulf and The Wanderer.
Is this really that different from the emotions there?

Exeter is focused as a medieval anthology–all poetry.
Contemporary research attempts to understand the intertextuality of the corpus.

At first it seems a hodgepodge: elegy, eschatological, and riddles.
Differently tomed texts open similarly.

Wife’s Lament opening is echoed in two other poems (distinct in speaker possibly genre)
compared to The Seafarer
compared to The Soul and Body “It behooves each man that he examine his body… death comes… severs the kinsman…”

Links in these texts to contemplations of death.

All three invite others to contemplate

Wife’s Lament opens and then explains how they have been separated.
l. 26 current situation “lives in grove, under an oath tree, in an earth cave/hall”
l. 42-53 mood of poem changes to her “call down” a similar fate
Niles says 1. cursing her beloved towards the same suffering
or 2. worrying about her beloved and his suffering

There is an emphatic speech act. Speaker thinks it is more than just worrying about her beloved.

Could begin with final section of poem and compare to speech acts in other poems.
Comparisons with The Wanderer “Where is the horse gone? Where is the rider? …Alas the mailed warrior. Alas for the splendor of the prince. That time has passed away… Here money is fleeting. Here x is fleeting…”
Passage could be read as stoic, but the repetition shows emphatic.

“May the young man be sad-minded
Let him have a smiling face along with his sorrows…
Let him have…
Let him be outlawed in a foreign man…
My beloved will suffer…
He will remember…
Woe to him who suffers far from home…”

Contiguities: storms and rocky cliffs in Wanderer mirror winter-ridden cave in Wife’s Lament

Soul and Body presents extreme, emphatic tone
Body never speaks but is presented as a rotting corpse being consumed by names.
l. 92-101
“But what will you say there on Doomsday to the Lord…
But what will we two do for ourselves…
Then we two will be obliged to experience such miseries…”

Soul lists monsters the body should have been born as instead of being sinful.

explicit formatives
emphatic
seems not to be limited to feminine

mourning is not limited to feminine
occur throughout the poem, but also The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and many other works…

opening and vocabulary of emotion
tone and theme are much more visible than masculinity v. femininity

Even the title “The Wife’s Lament” gives modern connotations:
Intimate and domestic spaces.
Express emotions privately.

More domestic images of women (The Onion) and of men in Exeter.
The femininity operating in The Wife’s Lament we see a woman of rank involved in political intrigue.
Look at feminine quality of piece in the more obvious presentations of emotion of other texts.

Partial map to build of the poems we have.

Different mss of the period:
feminine gender construction as a public device or structure

The woman might not have been recognized as a 10thC Freyja
She is a high-ranking woman.
She is not killed or beaten.
She is exiled and through that associated with the powers of the dead.

The woman, her place, and actions cannot be a portrait of a real woman. “Weeping woman figure” that can be related to Freyja.

Can map poem in terms of key events in Freyja

another well-known weeping woman appears in Beowulf
Hildegard “the lady mourned, lamented the warrior with songs”
before initiation of scene, see that she ordered her brother and her son placed on the pyre together
the scop tells us that she watched them burning. We watch with her as the bodies burn, heads explode, and …

Stolen Body 1 and 2 and other versions in Vercelli homilies

In the poems the gender of the soul is not referenced, but wearing a bride ring (so maybe a woman)
Referred to in the sermons with feminine pronouns and inflections.
Dual pronouns (as in the Wife’s Lament) there are dual pronouns discussing the sundering of the relationship wife/husband, soul/body.
Connection with the decomposing

head bursts open in reefer passage
relates to Hildegard’s family pyre scene

femininity of voice crosses (not into heroic literature) but into the stolen body literature
Psychomachia relates this. Schoarly work.
But femininity seems to come up so often.
Ideas of what a soul-figure might say, might be gendered through the weeping woman figure.

Revised
woman of power at scene of abjection gives meaning to the experience that the departed hero cannot see, curses those who are taken away (emphasized through dual pronouns)

We would be taking notice of the fantasy of feminine mourning that are used to structure narratives of cultural critique.

OE Poetry: The Wanderer

In live blogging this conference, I am following the conventions for conference blogging.

A Mind of Winter: A Comparative Approach to Wisdom in The Wanderer
Jason Lotz, Purdue Univ.
Winner of the Thomas Ohlgren Award for Best Graduate Student Essay in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

WS Klein “paths are … able to contain all our interpretations”
uses post-colonial “presents are able to contain all our suppositions”
traces parallels in Hamlet and Japanese film Okuribito (stigma of new job, caring for the dead- marginalized in society, isolated at home; plays cello and he and his father gather and exchange stones), also released in English as Departures.

Lotz agrees with other scholars that there is only one speaker in The Wanderer. He doesn’t, however, agree with the two part development or division of the poem mentioned in talks yesterday.

Three stages of development:
marginalized identity
identity through memory
new identity

Marginalized identity
l. 1-5 “the solitary one by enduring obtains favor”

l. 6-7 (first stage in process of becoming wise)
“so said the earth-stepper, mindful of hardship… of the fall of beloved kinsmen”

l. 12 “guard one’s self in one’s heart”

Restricted by exile he is in danger of depression, of losing control of his identity.

Identity through memory
What really devastates the wanderer is his memory.
Present misery based on memory.
Present condition merges with past experiences.
Marginalized by grief.

l. 64 of the wanderer after he wakes up
Rather than narrate his individual sufferings, describes widespread troubles and then says how to meet them.
“A man may not become wise until he experiences a number of winters in the world”

Wise man does not just derive wisdom from experience, but is able to live life wisely.
“Fate is fully fixed.”

New identity
Repetitive structure connects the speaker to the community of grief. This connection gives eternal consolation, if not secular joy.
Pulls one’s gaze from one’s suffering, allows one to look at others, suffering individual joins “a more productive conversation between past and present” and thus becomes again a member of the community.
Suffering is universal.

One who is suffering, grieving can move beyond the individual sorrow and take place in the community of grief.

Comparable works
Daigo (in Japanese movie) uses his experience with ritual of death in his job to allow him to honor and reconcile with his father, following his father’s death, and allows him to re-join his family from isolation by his re-connection with his pregnant wife.

Hamlet re-creates his identity through his relationship with the ghost and thus races into his tragedy.

Change?
Quality of memory changes. “in his mind” Changes his subjectivity, his thinking.

Communal subjectivity
in “Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens.
“One must have a mind of winter”
Relate to the heat goes cold proverb of yesterday’s presentation.

Okuribito opening scene:
peers into a snowstorm “When I was a child, winter did not seem so cold.”

Quoting from Wallace Stevens’ poem “Snow Man:”
“One must … have been cold a long time ….
not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind…
…
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.”

“Snow Man” offers the opportunity to become one with the cold.
Concerns of the greater community.
Must have the mind of winter to understand the exile’s path.