The Medieval Material Memory Project Bibliography is a working archive of research helpful in developing the Medieval Material Memory Project. This bibliography was compiled by Dr. Kenna L. Olsen, with research assistants Tia Christoffersen and Samantha Purchase. Last updated August 20, 2020.
♦ Alaimo, Stacey, and Susan J. Hekman. “Introduction: Emerging Models of Materiality in Feminist Theory.” Material Feminisms, edited by Stacey Alaimo and Susan J. Hekman, Indiana University Press, 2008, pp. 1-19.
In this introduction to their collection, Stacey Alaimo and Susan J. Hekman articulate the need for feminist theory to include studies of materiality. They discuss feminist writers’ shift away from the material, then assert their goal of coming to an “understanding [of] the relationship between discourse and matter that does not privilege the former to the exclusion of the latter” (6). Alaimo and Hekman underline the importance of materiality to feminist studies of language, as “various aspects of materiality contribute to the development and transformation of discourses” (4). Also central to their aims is the compilation of feminist works which incorporate materiality into their examinations of nature and the body in a manner that rejects a reading of passivity.
♦ Allen, Valerie J. “Broken Air.” Exemplaria, vol. 16, no. 2, 2004, pp. 305-322, 10.1179/exm.2004.16.2.305.
Allen performs an analysis of how violence is manifested through sound in several different areas: “grammatical noise,” music, and marriage. First, she relays Priscian’s categorization of speech and sound, ranging from what is deemed acceptable and intelligible and what is not, to what is intelligible but cannot be textually recorded, such as groaning. She then articulates that “it is not silence that is the other of sound, but noise” (311), which applies to music in the form of dissonance and to marriage in the form of auditory extimacy. Underpinning Allen’s article is her use of Priscian’s categories to assert that meaningless “voice-noise” is violent. “Sound that violates rational discourse” (310), exemplified by the nonsensical sounds uttered by demons in Dante’s Inferno, is seen to be a rejection of rationality and an affront to the natural.
♦ Bahr, Arthur and Alexandra Gillespie. “Medieval English Manuscripts: Form, Aesthetics, and the Literary Text.” The Chaucer Review, vol. 47, 2013, pp. 346‑360, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/chaucerrev.47.4.0346.
In their introduction to this volume of The Chaucer Review, Bahr and Gillespie investigate the relationships between studies of medieval literature, form, and aesthetics, querying, “What can manuscript scholars offer to a field of literary studies revitalized by aesthetic theory? And what, in turn, might formally inclined literary critics to offer to students of books?” (349). They demonstrate the benefits to book historians of embracing new formalism while cautioning against equating the materiality of a text with merely the physicality of a book, rather than encapsulating both its physical and ideal forms. Bahr and Gillespie ultimately articulate that form has multitudinous and pluralistic meanings that require interpretation.
♦ Brown, Bill. “Thing Theory.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 28, no. 1, 2001, pp. 1-22, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1344258.
Brown’s article elucidates thing theory by invoking philosophers such as Derrida, Latour, and Heidegger, as well as psychoanalyst Lacan. He helpfully brings ‘things’ into focus by articulating that “[w]e begin to confront the thingness of objects when they stop working for us” and that with “a changed relation to the human subject . . . the thing really names less an object than a particular subject-object relation” (4). Brown also crucially notes the liminality of “thingness” (5).
♦ Bull, Marcus. “What are the Middle Ages.” Thinking Medieval. An Introduction to the Study of the Middle Ages (London: Palgrave, 2005) 42-61.
Bull dissects the connotations of the label “Middle Ages’ and its effects on periodization. Bull proposes that the term ‘medieval’ is too loaded a term, conjuring images and assumptions of a time period that never really existed. Instead, Bull proposes that perhaps the fallacy of linear history should be abandoned altogether for an overlapping and contradictory view that takes temporality and pluriversity into account. Bull’s article is useful in that it offers a critique of how periodization can propagate a myth of progress that separates history from the current temporal moment.
♦ Burns, E. Jane. Courtly Love Undressed: Reading Through Clothes in Medieval French Culture. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
Burns’s book investigates the role of materiality—garments and adornments in particular—in the representation of courtly love in French literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. She seeks to examine what clothing can reveal about the social and cultural milieu of the wearer, in the context of medieval sumptuary laws and gender expectations. By “reading through clothes” (12), Burns is able to ascertain how stories of courtly love can subvert such expectations. For instance, characters who fall in love demonstrate an increased social status which is reflected through their clothing and in some cases, women are able to utilize clothing to achieve greater autonomy.
♦ Carruthers, Mary. The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture. 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press, 2008.
In her book, Carruthers undergoes a comprehensive study of memorial processes from a range of medieval perspectives. She explicates metaphorical ideas of memorialization, discusses the relationship between the materiality of books and memory, and elucidates the intersections of the memory with sensory perception. Utilizing myriad textual sources, Carruthers’ book offers an abundance of information regarding medieval understandings of memory.
♦ Cartlidge, Neil. “Ripples on the Water?: The Acoustics of Geoffrey Chaucer’s House of Fame and the Influence of Robert Holcot.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer, vol. 39, 2017, pp. 57-98, 10.1353/sac.2017.0049.
Cartlidge examines the theories of sound evident in Chaucer’s House of Fame, focusing on the eagle’s speech to the dreamer about acoustics. He explicates the speech’s theoretical underpinnings and identifies the presence of Aristotelian theories, such as the notion that all objects will inevitably travel to their natural position and the assertion that the matter sound consists of is air. He acknowledges that these ideas likely would have been drawn from the works of Boethius, Macrobius, and Vincent of Beauvais, but posits the theory that Chaucer’s understanding of acoustics was influenced by Robert Holcot, a Dominican friar. This idea is supported by evidence of parallels in Holcot’s writings and the House of Fame; Holcot employs the same analogy of ripples in water and in describing it uses the words “cause” and “multiplication,” both of which Chaucer emphasizes in the eagle’s speech. Further demonstrating Holcot’s possible influence, Cartlidge notes that this language is not present in the works of Chaucer’s other sources.
♦ Chaganti, Seeta. “Vestigial Signs: Inscription, Performance, and The Dream of the Rood.” PMLA, vol. 125, no. 1, 2010, pp. 48-72, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25614436.
Chaganti explores the relationship between early medieval inscriptions and the material surfaces on which they are inscribed, with specific focus on The Dream of the Rood, surviving in the Vercelli Book and on the Ruthwell and Brussels crosses. She examines what is signalled by the materiality of both crosses, then moves to an analysis of the poem itself and its interaction with spatiality. While the Brussels cross bears an inscription regarding its construction, providing a material demarcation of its identity, the Ruthwell monument’s inscriptions are connected to the performance of religious devotion. Chaganti states that the three iterations of the poem do not need to be read through a temporal chronology and should rather be regarded as “each existing both inside and outside the time of the others” (51).
♦ Christiansen, Peter. “Video Games and Memory.” http://www.playthepast.org/?p=6097
Christiansen’s blog post examines the intersection between video games and cultural memory. As Christiansen writes, video games illustrate how history is filtered through individual perceptions and interpretations, gesturing towards evidence of the existence of pluriveristy within and outside of texts. Through an analysis of several popular video games, like Valiant Hearts and Pokemon Go, Christiansen reveals how video games can be a conduit for filling in gaps in the cultural memory–like Valiant Hearts does through its illustration of the cost of war on individuals—or by utilizing story to show how memory is never static and reliant on active memorialization. The MMMP’s interest in sustainability and emerging technologies fits well with the claims in this blog post, especially regarding Christiansen’s comments about how popular these modes of engagement are becoming.
♦ Clanchy, Michael T. From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307. 3rd ed., Wiley Blackwell, 2012.
Clanchy’s book traces medieval literacy in England, “from the Norman Conquest to the death of Edward I” (1). He provides a comprehensive study of record-making, archival processes, textuality, and the shift towards a more widely literate population. Additionally, Clanchy investigates the contexts informing these memorial and material facets of English culture, and questions how the practices of early England informed this period of the Middle Ages.
♦ Cowell, Andrew. “Swords, Clubs, and Relics: Performance, Identity, and the Sacred.” Yale French Studies, no. 110, 2006, pp. 7-18, http://www.jstor.com/stable/20060036.
Cowell’s article seeks to investigate items and their significance “within the gift-giving culture of the medieval warrior aristocracy of the eleventh and twelfth centuries” (7). In his examination of medieval epic narratives, Cowell looks at the determining factors of a gifted item’s value, and how items can gain more material worth through the gift exchange process. Items demarcate the owner’s status within society as well as underline racial and class tensions, demonstrating how objects and identities shape and are shaped by one another.
♦ Dinshaw, Carolyn. “Getting Medieval: Pulp Fiction, Gawain, Foucault.” The Book and the Body, edited by Dolores Warwick Frese and Katherine O’Brien OKeefe, U of Notre Dame P.,1997, pp. 116-163.
Dinshaw’s scholarship on temporality is key to discussions of medieval memorialization. Dinshaw contrasts the film Pulp Fiction with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Dinshaw problematizes Pulp Fiction’s use of the word “medieval” which in context infers torture and violence. For Dinshaw, time should be spent considering what the definition of medieval is in this context, and why so often ‘medieval’ is meant to signify ‘violent.’ Dinshaw’s points about the medieval being synonymous with brutality are key in understanding how the medieval is contextualized in pop-culture products as well as in the cultural memory.
♦ Eco, Umberto. “The Return of the Middle Ages” Travels in Hyperreality. Harcourt, 1986.
Eco’s “The Return of the Middle Ages” is a seminal piece of criticism that attempts to understand the place of medievalisms in culture. Eco makes the essential point that the ‘dreaming’ of the Middle Ages began when society became ‘modern’ and Europe was gripped with nostalgia for a past as it never was (66). Crucially, Eco is also very clear that the medievalisms (or ‘little Middle Ages,’ as he refers to them) are constantly reinvented to serve the purpose of different periods of time; as such, the medieval is being reworked, remoulded and remade all the time. As such, Eco hypothesizes ‘Ten Little Middle Ages’ that describe the varying dreams of the medieval that culture and individuals have. They range from looking at the Middle Ages as a site of ‘ironical revisitation’ to the ‘barbaric.’ For Eco, it is of great importance that people “[spell] out what kind of Middle Ages we are talking about” (72) in order to be clear about expectations and assumptions about the specific type of Middle Ages.
♦ Evans, Ruth. “Chaucer in Cyberspace: Medieval Technologies of Memory and The House of Fame.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer, vol. 23, 2001, pp. 43-69, doi.org/10.1353/sac.2001.0022.
Evans’ article is concerned with how memory and archival processes operate within and are integral to Chaucer’s House of Fame, while being simultaneously invested in deconstructing the problematic memorialization of the medieval. Of particular interest is Chaucer’s poetic examination of “auctoritas, a socially situated form of cultural memory” (55), and Fame, who “represents the instability of the archive, its origins in confusion and destruction” (57). She examines how texts and technology function in processes of memorialization in both medieval and post-medieval contexts, and cautions against viewing memory as antithetical to writing or history (49).
♦ Geary, Patrick. “Sacred Commodities: The Circulation of Medieval Relics.” The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, edited by Arjun Appadurai, Cambridge University Press, 1986, pp. 169–91.
Geary analyzes medieval relics, delineating saints’ remains as commodities due to their being exchanged and circulated by the same means as any other commodity from 750 to 1150 in the Latin West. He examines the various modes of circulation—theft, gift, exchange, and sale—and the cultural contexts in which they existed. Geary also explicates the value placed on saints’ remains by demonstrating how value was assigned to living saints and their bodies following death, as corpses of saints were seen to signify their material connection to the earth and its inhabitants.
♦ Gilles, Sealy. “Territorial Interpolations in the Old English Orosius.” Text and Territory, edited by Sylvia Tomasch and Sealy Gilles, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016, pp. 79-96, doi.org/10.9783/9781512808018-007.
After situating the reader in what comprises Cotton Tiberius Bi, Gilles analyzes Ohthere and Wulfstan’s travel accounts in the manuscript, paying particular attention to how the narrator articulates cultural similarities and differences between the travellers and those with whom they come into contact. Much of these comparisons are marked through material goods. Gilles underlines how geography, ethnography, and materiality in these narratives contribute to the establishment of an early English national identity.
♦ Harris, Jonathan Gil. “The New New Historicism’s Wunderkammer of Objects.” European Journal of English Studies, vol. 4, no. 2, 2000, pp. 111-23, doi.org/10.1076/1382-5577(200008)4:2;1-Q;FT111.
Compared to new historicism which was popular in the 1980s, new new historicism is more concerned with analyzing the object rather than the subject. Harris queries the constitution of the object in literary studies, invoking the scholarship of Arjun Appadurai and Walter Benjamin, and warns against the reading of an object without also considering other facets of its production. While his focus is on early modern materiality, Harris’ article is useful when considering objects of the medieval period.
♦ Hermann, Pernille. “Saga Literature, Cultural Memory, and Storage.” Scandinavian Studies, vol. 85, no. 3, 2013, pp. 332-354, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/scanstud.85.3.0332.
Hermann strives to demonstrate the relationship between Icelandic saga literature and processes of memorialization. With foundations in Astrid Erll and Ansgar Nünning’s scholarship on literature and cultural memory, Hermann defines the concept as “a type of memory that is collectively shared and connected to the formation of a group’s self-image and identity” (333). She articulates that memorialization is a process which takes place between texts through intertextuality and over time through literary dissemination, gesturing to instances such as in Króka-Refs saga, when direct attention is paid to the act of writing down one’s life stories as memorialization (349). The central link between memory and sagas, according to Hermann, is that they “are about the reconstruction and reorganization of the past, rather than about exact retrieval” (351).
♦ Higson, Andrew. “ ‘Medievalism,’ the period film and the British past in contemporary cinema.” Medieval Film. Manchester University Press, January 2012, edited by Anke Bernau and Bettina Bildhauer.
Higson’s article examines medievalisms present in contemporary cinema, concentrating his discussion on films that appeal to a distinct British past. As Higson finds, the film industry has been moving toward an “obsession” with the past in recent decades, and thus are participatory in a cultural shift toward invoking the past in a specific, albeit, blurry way (203). The “blurring” effect that Higson refers to is the lack of distinction between time periods in terms of design, costuming, aesthetics etc. in period films, particularly those that have the moniker of a historical epic. As Higson infers, the period film then–particularly that which claims the authenticity of the medieval period–is made hybrid, never quite standing alone but instead within a general, indistinct, premodern space. The premodern space is then depicted as a legitimate space to explore vulgar, gruesome and grotesque modes of behaviour that are considered as hallmarks of the past, implying the existence of a progressive history that points to the medieval as a distant past from which civilization emerged.
♦ Howe, Nicholas. “Books of Elsewhere: Cotton Tiberius B v and Cotton Vitellius A xv.” Writing the Map of Anglo-Saxon England: Essays in Cultural Geography, Yale University Press, 2008, pp. 151-194.
Howe explores the organization and content of both Cotton Tiberius B v and Cotton Vitellius A xv and crucially examines their reflections on place. He defines a “book of elsewhere” as “gatherings about place that reveal a sustained engagement with the larger cultural implications of geography” (154). Texts such as The Wonders of the East, Judith, and The Passion of St. Christopher, in addition to visual materials such as maps, undoubtedly inform readers’ conceptions of place. The Early English audience of these manuscripts would have achieved “a more complex understanding of home” (191), meaning England, by way of experiencing “here and elsewhere” (194) through textual exploration.
♦ Howe, Nicholas. “Writing the Boundaries.” Writing the Map of Anglo-Saxon England: Essays in Cultural Geography, Yale University Press, 2008, pp. 29-46.
Howe acknowledges the near absence of individual and localized descriptions of place in Early English literature, and provides an analysis of legal documents outlining the terms of land ownership, in which “local senses of place” (31) emerge. In these charters, vernacular English was deployed “to present information that was of immediate importance to those who could not comprehend Latin” (33). Such information refers less often to natural elements of the landscape than to human modifications. For this reason, Howe asserts that “the record of property boundaries . . . is in no small measure the record of human intervention on the landscape” (40).
♦ Kinch, Ashby. “‘Mind like wickerwork’: The neuroplastic aesthetics of Chaucer’s House of Tidings.” Postmedieval: A journal of medieval cultural studies, vol. 3, no. 3, 2012, pp. 302–314, 10.1057/pmed.2012.20.
Kinch provides a neuroscientific analysis of the House of Fame, theorizing that the structure called the House of Tidings “provides an example of a compelling image, an echo object through which we can recover Chaucer’s complex and dynamic view of human cognition” (303). Using the concept of neuroplasticity, he articulates how Chaucer’s chaotic structure embodies the process of the brain responding to sensory information (304). According to Kinch, the House of Tidings is Chaucer’s “model for the way the objects of the literary past can rewire us” (312).
♦ Kramnick, Jonathan. “Presence of Mind.” Paper Minds: Literature and the Ecology of Consciousness. UofChicagoP, 2018.
Kramnick asserts that contemporary theories of perception emerged in the eighteenth century, tracing various thinkers’ problematizing of perception, their anxieties about the accuracy of perception, and their rumination on how humans perceive three-dimensional space. Most pertinent to Kramnick’s article is how writers and literary form in the eighteenth century explore these ideas and put forth perceptual theories. Kramnick details ideas like that of Hume, who posits that the mind produces or represents intermediary images between the object and mind, and Berkeley who “says that depth perception combines ideas of sight with those of touch, [while] Addison says that seeing is a form of touching” (62). Once he has sufficiently explicated these eighteenth-century theories of perception, Kramnick explores “topographical [and] locodescriptive poetry” (62) of the same period and its ability to prompt readers to follow sightlines, to immediately visualize a conceptualized world, and to imagine touching features without physically doing so. In this way, he effectively asserts that “the formal theory of perceptual presence lagged behind its literary antecedents” (66).
♦ Lähnemann, Henrike. “The Materiality of Medieval Manuscripts.” Oxford German Studies, vol. 45, no. 2, 2016, pp. 121-141, doi.org/10.1080/00787191.2016.1156853.
Lähnemann examines the materiality of manuscripts produced at the Medingen convent, paying particular attention to the Bodleian Medingen Psalter. He analyzes its production, annotations, ornate illuminations, alterations, memory aids, and how it evolved over time. Lähnemann’s article is also crucial in articulating what the materiality of medieval manuscripts can reveal about the religious literary culture in which it was produced.
♦ Lynch, Andrew. “Medievalism and the Ideology of War.” The Cambridge Companion to Medievalism, edited by Louise D’Arcens, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2016, pp. 135-150. Cambridge Companions to Culture.
Lynch’s article examines the pervasive belief that the medieval is linked to modernity through a linear progression, arguing that this is because of war’s place at the “heart of contemporary medievalisms” (1). War images are linked with images of the medieval, because the medieval is thought of as violent and conversely, violence as inherently medieval. As Lynch uncovers, this belief establishes the existence of the medieval as a premodern space, fit to be filled with images of grotesque violence and savagery, contrasted with contemporary, post-medieval progression, where brutality and unsightly violence is squarely removed into the past. Lynch’s article is filled with insight into medieval war history, while creating helpful connections between memory and periodization.
♦ MacFarlane, Robert. “The Word-Hoard.” Landmarks. Penguin Books, 2016, pp. 1-14.
MacFarlane is invested in the United Kingdom’s “lexis of landscape” (1) and the importance of memorializing the abundant nature-related vocabularies that have been and continue to be created. In this chapter of Landmarks, he explores the etymology of various landscape words, including the word “landmark [which] is from the Old English landmearc, meaning ‘an object in the landscape which, by its conspicuousness, serves as a guide in the direction of one’s course’” (12). MacFarlane additionally examines terms from a wide variety of languages, demonstrating that the lexicon he seeks to establish is not monolithic.
♦ “Medieval era was more diverse—and less violent—than Game of Thrones would have you believe, says expert.” CBC Radio One, from CBC Radio, May 20 2019.
This podcast episode delves into Game of Thrones’ final episode and offers critique from four panellists from a variety of backgrounds, including Dr. Kavita Mudan Finn, a medievalist scholar. This podcast is useful in its articulation of the problematic way that George R.R. Martin and the show portray the medieval period—as violent and white—and how it distorts perceptions of the medieval. As Mudan Finn states, “what George R.R. Martin has done is taken certain events that happened over periods of decades, even centuries, and then squashed them together so that it looks like these things happen over and over again.”As Mudan Finn articulates, it is more of a ‘refraction’ of the medieval than a ‘reflection’ of the medieval. Although focused primarily on Game of Thrones, this podcast is applicable to other pop-culture products as well as a general discussion of medievalisms in relation to cultural memory, making it a useful entry in the MMMP.
♦ Pugh, Tyson & Weisl, Angela Jane. “Medievalism: The Magic of the Middle Ages”Medievalism: Making the Past in the Present (Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, 2013.
Pugh and Weisl’s article examines medievalisms and how they are utilized in order to comment on the contemporary moment. As Pugh and Weisl explain, the ‘magic’ of the Middle Ages is that it is inherently a construct, a fallacy, born out of the Renaissance to “establish a break with the past” (1). Indeed, medievalism is an innately nostalgic endeavour and as Pugh and Weisl negotiate, its effects can propel a reimagined nationalism that believes in an inherent wildness and violence in the Middle Ages that may not have existed at all. Pugh and Weisl’s article exemplifies the fundamental connection between medievalisms and cultural memory, and is easily applicable to a variety of intellectual inquiry.
♦ Robertson, Kellie. “Medieval Materialism: A Manifesto.” Exemplaria, vol. 22, no. 2, 2010, pp. 99-118, 10.1179/104125710X12670926011996.
Robertson problematizes periodization by calling into question the “rupture narrative” that has precluded medieval conceptions of matter from the genealogy of materialism. Following the Enlightenment, medieval views of matter and form have continually been conflated with physicality and denounced as pantheistic. She traces the absences in materialism’s history, drawing attention to the Neoplatonic and Aristotelian philosophies circulated and debated in the Middle Ages. Robertson urges readers to acknowledge the temporal gaps in materialism and to fill those gaps by considering medieval material debates. The presence of such debates is proven when Robertson examines Chaucer’s The Legend of Good Women and Gower’s Confessio Amantis, which invoke Aristotelian and Neoplatonic notions of matter and form, respectively. The texts’ engagement with matter demonstrates the complex and varied perspectives of matter in medieval literature, thus further destabilizing the reductive treatment of medieval materialism.
♦ Robertson, Kellie. “Medieval Things: Materiality, Historicism, and the Premodern Object.” Literature Compass, vol. 5, no. 6, 2008, pp. 1060–1080, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-4113.2008.00588.x.
Robertson seeks to contest the theoretical emphasis on subjectivity in the Middle Ages, asserting instead that objects are assigned agency in medieval literature. She argues that by viewing premodern objects in this way we can study how “objects shape human perceptions and knowledges rather than being merely shaped by them” (1075). By surveying thing theory and tracing theories of materiality, Robertson effectively continues the project of dismantling the perspective that the subject-object relationship emerged with the Renaissance. She invokes Bruno Latour’s conception of a premodern world with a permeable border between humans and things to ground her subversion of the post-Enlightenment idea that there is a hierarchy of subjects and inactive objects. To further investigate the functions of things and their effects on human perceptions, Robertson analyzes a series of objects in medieval literature: Arthurian furniture, Griselda’s clothing in The Clerk’s Tale, and the Merchant’s hat in The General Prologue. She concludes that these objects serve to communicate more than just the subjects with which they are associated.
♦ Rouse, Robert. “In his time were gode lawes: Romance and the English Legal Past.” The Idea of Anglo-Saxon England in Middle English Romance, Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 93-132.
Rouse asserts that “the idea of the Anglo-Saxon past as a Golden Age of the Law was influential and widespread in late-medieval England” (94), and seeks to investigate the textual memorialization of this idea. He examines the paradigm that law was seen to originate in the Early English period, and that in order to be valid, new laws must have a connection to pre-existing legislation. Rouse then offers textual explication of the idealistic representation of Early English law, demonstrating how romances such as Guy of Warwick contribute to the formation of English identity.
♦ Rudd, Gillian. “Wilds, wastes and wilderness.” Greenery: Ecocritical Readings of Late Medieval English Literature. Manchester University Press, July 19, 2012. University Press Scholarship Online. http://www.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.7228/manchester/9780719072482.001.0001/uspo-9780719072482-chapter-3
Rudd’s article investigates the meaning of wilds, waste and crucially, wilderness in relation to late medieval texts like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Sir Orfeo. Working through an ecocritical lens, Rudd writes of the unknowability of the wilderness, a place in which humans are excluded and customs ignored, thus necessitating the casting off of one’s identity in order to cross the liminal space. Wilderness then, argues Rudd, is accessible only to those who traverse the boundary voluntarily, who “wish to escape human society […] mak[ing] wilderness a site of trial and transformation” (93). Rudd’s concern with wilderness yields conversation about sustainability, particularly when coupled with Rudd’s suggestion that wilderness may just be a place without women (95). As both sustainability and liminality are intrinsic to the MMMP, Rudd’s article is helpful in understanding how environment can shape and alter texts.
♦ Scarry, Elaine. “Injury and the Structure of War.” Representations, no. 10, 1985, pp. 1- 55. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3043799.
Elaine Scarry’s article, although dense, is a useful entry point in discussions about violence and medieval memorialization. Scarry discusses war as primarily concerned with injury–that is, the very woundable and fragile tearing of human tissue. In her discussion of said violence, Scarry makes several key points about how injury–and thus, war–must be understood; for Scarry, it is clear that injury must be made individual since “pain […] is experienced within” (2). Scarry uses examples of how anti-war efforts have used injury caused by incendiary devices to showcase individual pain (small girls scarred by burns) as the scope of injuries caused by war as a whole. The forcing of the “reader’s head so that he cannot turn away” (2) speaks to an aspect of stylization of violence that manufactures cultural memory for a set purpose. Scarry’s work elucidates the connections between violence and cultural memory made by other entries in the MMMP, and offers insight into how word choice can deliberately change how wars are remembered or forgotten in the collective consciousness.
♦ Shippey, Tom. “Medievalisms and Why They Matter.” Studies in Medievalism XVII: Defining Medievalism(s), edited by Karl Fugelso, Boydell & Brewer, 2009, pp. 45-52.
Shippey’s article looks at medievalisms and its broad history, how medievalism can and does refer to many different kinds of things: books, movies, music, video games, history itself. Shippey argues for thinking about medievalism as medievalisms in the plural since the field is so vast and filled with overlap. Key to Shippey’s discussion is how nationalistic medievalism has begun to gain traction and attention in the field. As Shippey reminds readers, Nazi nationalism is derived from the belief in a fictitious ‘pure’ medieval past. It is then the responsibility of medievalists to refute and correct the nationalistic belief found in golden age medievalisms, of which the MMMP attempts to deconstruct.
♦ Sturtevant, Paul B. “Who Won the Game of Thrones?” The Public Medievalist.https://www.publicmedievalist.com/who-won-game-of-thrones/. Accessed May 31 2019.
Sturtevant’s analysis of Game of Thrones’ final episode critiques the show’s view of history. As Sturtevant points out, “nations [are] built by stories” (1) and therefore Game of Thrones’ conclusion illustrates how history (therefore, story) is manipulated, remade and reworked. Memorialization is reliant upon what is being chosen to be remembered and what is being chosen to forget, illustrating how ‘history’ is repeatedly violently editorialized, thus never remaining static. Sturtevant analysis gestures to the existence of a pluriverse of history, in which truth contains a level of flexibility and reliant on perspective. Although this article’s primary concern is with Game of Thrones, Sturvevants analysis lends itself well to the conversation of medieval memorialization as a whole.
♦ Tolmine, Jane. “Medievalism and the Fantasy Heroine.” Journal of Gender Studies. p.145-158
Tolmine’s article examines fantasy novels and their use of medievalism, focusing on how medievalist tropes affect female characters. Tolmine writes of the interrelationship of fantasy and medievalism, focusing on the tropes of fantasy mirror the tropes of medievalism, especially when it comes to female characters. As Tolmine writes, motifs of gender-based oppression are everywhere in fantasy literature, as nearly all major female characters in her case study of contemporary medieval fantasy have had to avert, avoid and survive rape, abuse or domestic violence. As Tolmine argues, “ideas about the thing come to displace the thing itself […] it is in the nature of medievalism to inspire forms of creative re-enactment” in regards to the decontextualization of the Middle Ages history in the creation of tropes for the period (149).
♦ Toswell, M.J. “The Tropes of Medievalism.” Studies in Medievalism XVII: Defining Medievalism(s), edited by Karl Fugelso, Boydell & Brewer, 2009, pp.68-76.
Toswell’s article investigates the tropes of medievalism, well also providing some useful parsing on the competing definitions of medievalism. Toswell attempts to provide both a connotative and denotative definition for medievalism, pointing out the difficulty with a field that “is both a scholarly field of study and a nostalgic impulse to rework [the past]” (69). As Toswell writes in detail of the many, often conflicting, tropes of the medieval, like dragons, quests, treasure hunting, giants, elves, honour, justice, flowery speech, Toswell helpfully deconstructs the aesthetic of the Middle Ages, arguing that these tropes are ways for the Middle Ages to become more distant and anachronistic. As Toswell notes, “texts using medievalism are never quite finished, never quite authentic, never quite tangible, never quite over” (74).
♦ Treharne, Elaine. “Romanticizing the Past in the Middle English Athelston.” The Review of English Studies, vol. 50, no. 197, 1999, pp. 1-21, http://www.jstor.com/stable/517756.
Treharne explores the late medieval poem Athelston’s re-imagining of the Anglo-Saxon king, Athelstan. She begins with a historical review of Athelstan by invoking The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, then examines how he is depicted in a variety of texts. The cultural and temporal nuances of Athelston’s content are central to Treharne’s article, as she asserts the poem offers “a fictional and medievalized portrayal” (12) of Athelstan through contemporary political and literary invocations. The purpose of this memorialization, according to Treharne, is rooted in nostalgia.