The monograph series Oxford Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture showcases the plurilingual and multicultural quality of medieval literature and actively seeks to promote research that not only focuses on the array of subjects medievalists now pursue in literature, theology, and philosophy, in social, political, jurisprudential, and intellectual history, the history of art, and the history of science but also that combines these subjects productively. It offers innovative studies on topics that may include, but are not limited to, manuscript and book history; languages and literatures of the global Middle Ages; race and the post-colonial; the digital humanities, media and performance; music; medicine; the history of affect and the emotions; the literature and practices of devotion; the theory and history of gender and sexuality, ecocriticism and the environment; theories of aesthetics; medievalism. Reading for form can mean reading for formation. Understanding processes through which a text was created can help us in characterizing its form. But what is involved in bringing a diachronic process to bear upon a synchronic work? When does literary formation begin and end? When does form happen? These questions emerge with urgency in the interactions between English poet Geoffrey Chaucer and Italian trecento authors Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Francis Petrarch. In fourteenth-century Italy, new ways were emerging of configuring the relation between author and reader. Previously, medieval reading was often oriented around the significance of the text to the individual reader. In Italy, however, reading was beginning to be understood as a way of getting back to a work's initial formation. This book tracks how concepts of reading developed within Italian texts, including Dante's Vita nova, Boccaccio's Filostrato and Teseida, and Petrarch's Seniles, impress themselves upon Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and Canterbury Tales. It argues that Chaucer's poetry reveals the implications of reading for formation: above all, that it both depends upon and effaces the historical perspective and temporal experience of the individual reader. Problems raised within Chaucer's poetry thus inform this book's broader methodological argument: that there is no one moment at which the formation of Chaucer's poetry ends; rather its form emerges in and through process of reading within time.
Oceans at Home: Maritime and Domestic Fictions in Nineteenth-Century American Women's Writing
University of Massachusetts Press, 2021
Melissa Gniadek explores the role of the ocean, with particular attention to the Pacific, in a diverse range of literary texts spanning the late 1820s through the mid-1860s from Lydia Maria Child, Caroline Kirkland, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Stoddard, and Harriet Prescott Spofford. Oceans at Home shows that authors employed maritime plots and stories from distant locations to probe contemporary concerns facing the continental United States, ranging from issues of gender restrictions in the domestic sphere to the racial prejudices against indigenous peoples that lay at the heart of settler colonialism.
Print Culture and the Medieval Author: Chaucer, Lydgate, and Their Books, 1473-1557
Oxford UP, 2006
Print Culture and the Medieval Author is a history of the books of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer and of his follower, the monk John Lydgate, that were made and circulated in the century after the arrival of the printing press in England. At its center is a familiar question: what is an author? The book argues that the answers that medieval culture had produced to that question were of use to England's early printers as they managed the risks, problems and opportunities that characterized the changing late medieval book trade--manuscript and print. The treatment of texts that were ascribed to Chaucer and Lydgate in the period 1473-1557 is an index to the sometimes flexible, sometimes resistant responses of compositors, copyists, decorators, binders, distributors, patrons, censors, and owners to a gradual, but profound bibliographical transition.
Marlene GoldmanNarratives of Age-Related Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease in Canada
McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017
Since the 1860s, long before scientists put a name to Alzheimer’s disease, Canadian authors have been writing about age-related dementia. Originally, most of these stories were elegies, designed to offer readers consolation. Over time they evolved into narratives of gothic horror in which the illness is presented not as a normal consequence of aging but as an apocalyptic transformation.
Weaving together scientific, cultural, and aesthetic depictions of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Forgotten asserts that the only crisis associated with Canada’s aging population is one of misunderstanding. Revealing that turning illness into something monstrous can have dangerous consequences, Marlene Goldman seeks to identify the political and social influences that have led to the gothic disease model and its effects on society. Examining the works of authors such as Alice Munro, Michael Ignatieff, Jane Rule, and Caroline Adderson alongside news stories and medical and historical discussions of Alzheimer’s disease, Goldman provides an alternative, person-centred perspective to the experiences of aging and age-related dementia.
Signal Editions, 2013
The poems in Dante's House, Richard Greene's first collection since winning the 2010 Governor-General's Award for Poetry, take as their subject the rumors, misunderstandings and half-truths that often comprise our knowledge of others. With an astonishing gift for capturing states of feeling, Greene's new poems movingly reflect on the presence and absence, glory and disarray of our flawed life, moving from his mother's oil paintings to harrowing conditions at a corrections facility to a portrayal of Port-au-Prince in the aftermath of the earthquake. The capstone of the book is the magnificent title poem. Written in fluent, colloquial terza rima and set in sun-drenched Siena during the frenzied pageantry of Il Palio (the Italian city's bi-annual horse race) it is a brilliant, beautifully realized achievement that consolidates Greene's reputation as a master of narrative verse.
The Chronicle Herald published following review about Dante's House. To see the review please click here.
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Elizabeth D. HarveyVentriloquized Voices: Feminist Theory and English Renaissance Texts
Ventriloquized Voices is a fascinating examination of the appropriation of the feminine voice by male authors. In a historical and theoretical study of English texts of the early modern period, Elizabeth D. Harvey looks at the transvestism at work in texts which purport to be by women but which are in fact written by men. The crossing of gender in these ventriloquized works illuminates the discourses of patronage, medicine, madness and eroticism in English Renaissance society, revealing as it does the construction of sexuality, gender identity, and power. The author skillfully juxtaposes such canonical works as John Donne''s Anniversaries and Spenser''s Faerie Queene with pamphlets on transvestism, midwifery books, and treatises on gynaecology and hysteria. By interrogating the fashioning of gender within a broad range of Renaissance culture, Ventriloquized Voices investigates not only the relationship between men, women and language, but also crucial twentieth-century feminist debates such as essentialism and the female voice.
Elizabeth D. Harvey, ed.Sensible Flesh: On Touch in Early Modern Culture
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002
This ground-breaking interdisciplinary collection explores the complex, ambiguous, and contradictory sense of touch in early modern culture. If touch is the sense that mediates between the body of the subject and the world, these essays make apparent the frequently disregarded lexicons of tactility that lie behind and beneath early modern discursive constructions of eroticism, knowledge, and art. For the early moderns, touch was the earliest and most fundamental sense. Frequently aligned with bodily pleasure and sensuality, it was suspect; at the same time, it was associated with the authoritative disciplines of science and medicine, and even with religious knowledge and artistic creativity.
The unifying impulse of Sensible Flesh is both analytic and recuperative. It attempts to chart the important history of the sense of touch at a pivotal juncture and to understand how tactility has organized knowledge and defined human subjectivity. The contributors examine in theoretically sophisticated ways both the history of the hierarchical ordering of the senses and the philosophical and cultural consequences that derive from it.
The essays consider such topics as New World contact, the eroticism of Renaissance architecture, the Enclosure Acts in England, plague, the clitoris and anatomical authority, Pygmalion, and the language of tactility in early modern theater. In exploring the often repudiated or forgotten sense of touch, the essays insistently reveal both the world of sensation that subtends early modern culture and the corporeal foundations of language and subjectivity.
Elizabeth D. Harvey, Theresa Krier, eds.Luce Irigaray and Premodern Culture: Thresholds of History
The essays in this groundbreaking collection stage conversations between the thought of the controversial feminist philosopher, linguist and psychoanalyst Luce Irigaray and premodern writers, ranging from Empedocles and Homer, to Shakespeare, Spenser and Donne. They explore both the pre-Enlightenment roots of Luce Irigaray's thought, and the impact that her writings have had on our understanding of ancient, medieval and Renaissance culture.
Luce Irigaray has been a major figure in Anglo-American literary theory, philosophy and gender studies ever since her germinal works, Speculum of the Other Woman and This Sex Which Is Not One, were published in English translation in 1985. This collection is the first sustained examination of Irigaray's crucial relationship to premodern discourses underpinning Western culture, and of the transformative effect she has had on scholars working in pre-Enlightenment periods. Like Irigaray herself, the essays work at the intersections of gender, theory, historicism and language.
This collection offers powerful ways of understanding premodern texts through Irigaray's theories that allow us to imagine our past and present relationship to economics, science, psychoanalysis, gender, ethics and social communities in new ways.
Creating Legal Worlds
University of Toronto Press, 2015
A legal judgment is first and foremost a story, a narrative of facts about the parties to the case. Creating Legal Worlds is a study of how that narrative operates, and how rhetoric, story, and style function as integral elements of any legal argument.
Through careful analyses of notable cases from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, Greig Henderson analyses how the rhetoric of storytelling often carries as much argumentative weight within a judgement as the logic of legal distinctions. Through their narrative choices, Henderson argues, judges create a normative universe – the world of right and wrong within which they make their judgements – and fashion their own judicial self-images. Drawing on the work of the law and literature movement, Creating Legal Worlds is a convincing argument for paying close attention to the role of story and style in the creation of judicial decisions.
Four Last Songs: Aging and Creativity in Verdi, Strauss, Messiaen and Britten
University of Chicago Press, 2015
Aging and creativity can seem a particularly fraught relationship for artists, who often face age-related difficulties as their audience’s expectations are at a peak. In Four Last Songs, Linda and Michael Hutcheon explore this issue via the late works of some of the world’s greatest composers.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901), Richard Strauss (1864–1949), Olivier Messiaen (1908–92), and Benjamin Britten (1913–76) all wrote operas late in life, pieces that reveal unique responses to the challenges of growing older. Verdi’s Falstaff
, his only comedic success, combated Richard Wagner’s influence by introducing young Italian composers to a new model of national music. Strauss, on the other hand, struggling with personal and political problems in Nazi Germany, composed the self-reflexive Capriccio, a “life review” of opera and his own legacy. Though it exhausted him physically and emotionally, Messiaen at the age of seventy-five finished his only opera, Saint François d’Assise, which marked the pinnacle of his career. Britten, meanwhile, suffering from heart problems, refused surgery until he had completed his masterpiece, Death in Venice. For all four composers, age, far from sapping their creative power, provided impetus for some of their best accomplishments.
With its deft treatment of these composers’ final years and works, Four Last Songs provides a valuable look at the challenges—and opportunities—that present themselves as artists grow older.
A Theory of Adaptation
Are we living in the age of adaptation? In contemporary cinema, of course, there are enough adaptations —based on everything from comic books to the novels of Jane Austen—to make us wonder if Hollywood has run out of new stories. But if you think adaptation can be understood by using novels and films alone, you’re wrong. Today there are also song covers rising up the pop charts, video game versions of fairy tales, and even theme park rides based on successful movie franchises and vice-versa. We constantly tell and retell stories; we show and reshow stories; we interact and re-interact with stories—and these three different modes of engagement (and their interactions) allow us to rethink how adaptation works—and why.
Despite their popularity, however, adaptations are usually treated as secondary and derivative. Whether in the form of a Broadway musical or a hit television show, adaptations are almost inevitably regarded as inferior to the “original.” But are they? Shakespeare transferred his culture’s stories from page to stage, and no one begrudged him his borrowing. This study explores the ubiquity and historical persistence of adaptations in all their various media incarnations—and challenges their constant critical denigration. Adaptation, it argues, has always been a central mode of the story-telling imagination and deserves to be studied in all its breadth and range as both a process (of creation and reception) and a product.
A Theory of Adaptation theorizes how adaptation works across all media and genres in a way that attempts at last to put an end to the age-old question of whether the book was better than the movie, or the opera, or the theme park.
Linda Hutcheon and Michael HutcheonOpera: The Art of Dying
Harvard University Press, 2004
In Opera: The Art of Dying, a literary theorist and a physician bring together humanistic and scientific perspectives on the lessons on living and dying that the extravagant and artificial art of opera imparts. Our modern narratives of science and technology can only go so far in teaching us about the death that we must all finally face. Opera, an art steeped in death, might help take us (or at least help us conceive of) the rest of the way.
Contrasting the experience of mortality in opera to that of dramatic tragedy, this study finds a more apt analogy in the medieval custom of the contemplatio mortis—a dramatized exercise in imagining one’s own death that prepared one for the inevitable end and helped one enjoy more fully the life that remained. From the perspective of a contemporary opera audience, the authors explore, through recent studies of death emanating from medicine and the social sciences, concepts of mortality embodied in the operatic repertoire, ranging from the terror of death (in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites) to the longing for death (in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde), from preparation for the good death (in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen) to the meaning of suicide in different cultures (in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly or Berg’s Wozzeck). In works by Janáček, Ullmann, Britten, and many others, this study examines how death is made to feel logical and even right—morally, psychologically, and aesthetically—as, in the art of opera, we are shown how to rehearse death in order to give life meaning.
Linda Hutcheon and Mario J. Valdés, eds. and contributorsRethinking Literary History: A Dialogue on Theory
Oxford University Press, 2002
A few decades ago, when the influence of poststructuralist theory became dominant in literary theory, traditional literary history was pushed to the margins by critiques of its teleological assumptions and uncritical acceptance of Eurocentric ideologies. This happened, of course, at the same moment as groups previously disenfranchised by gender, race, sexuality or other “difference” began articulating their own specific literary historical narratives. The inevitable conflict is what led to this collaborative volume which participates not only in a continuing dialogue with the illustrious shades of the past, encountered and engaged while writing literary history, but also in a continuing dialogue among colleagues in the present working together to revisit these areas of both contention and excitement.
Each of the five authors tackles a major issue in the contemporary theorizing of literary history in the light of new methodological paradigms and new ideological challenges. Linda Hutcheon writes on “Rethinking the National Model” in the wake of “identity politics” in a postcolonial, diasporic age of globalization. Stephen Greenblatt takes on “Racial Memory and Literary History”, while Mario J. Valdés rethinks “the History of Literary History” itself. Marshall Brown explores the “Scale of Literary History” and Walter D. Mignolo offers a reconsideration of the “Colonial Model”. The personal response of Homi Bhabha concludes this wide-ranging dialogue, as the various authors reflect upon, argue with, and indeed do rethink each other’s formulations.
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