OBJECTIVES"Romance" is a genre that, in popular understanding, provides an expression of the dominant secular social and cultural institutions of the High Middle Ages: the ethos of a warrior class bound by imperatives of chivalric conduct, the concept of "courtly" love and courtoisie in general. This is our modern horizon of expectations for the "romance" genre. But what was the horizon of expectations for the medieval readership? How it evolved? We will explore these questions, probing into the complex origins of "romance" and examining a range of texts, from the early birds through the classics of the genre to late reflections. On the way, we will see how the idea of "romance" becomes solidified enough to work as a template and a subtext for other narrative types: hagiography, history etc., as well as providing a firm and fruitful ground for parodies and ironic treatments of various kinds. Inevitably, we will also touch on the issues of the social horizons of the genre as well as those of gender.
PRELIMINARY PROGRAMME 1) Introduction: themes, approaches, procedure 2) thematic characteristics of romance; romance in English - Ywain and Gawain / Chrétien de Troyes: Yvain (selection) - Sir Perceval of Galles 3) pre- to post-romance: evolution of the genre and late reflections - Old English Apollonius of Tyre (selection) - John Gower: eighth book of Confessio Amantis (selection) - William Shakespeare: Pericles 4) romance and hagiography - The Liflade ant te Passiun of Seinte Juliene (selection) 5) romance and history - the story of Havelok in Geoffrey Gaimar: L´Estoire des Engleis (in English) 6) subversions of romance - Geoffrey Chaucer: "The Merchant's Tale", The Canterbury Tales 7) Conclusions
MATERIAL Middle English texts listed in the programme will be provided in the original and in Modern English translation. A range of secondary texts, covering the larger issues connected with romance, will be made available in the Moodle.
PROCEDURE AND ASSESSMENTStudents are expected to give one presentation and submit a paper of 1,000 words for a credit. An essay of 5,000 words should be submitted as a graded paper. Active participation is of the essence.The seminar will combine Moodle forum with online/class sessions depending on the regulations stipulated by the Faculty authorities.To make the discussion of the texts more efficient, questions designed to open the debate will be posted in the forum and students will be asked to post their initial responses. The online/class session will expand on this, allowing all participants to interrogate, compare and combine their individual insights and conclusions. Presentations on secondary literature should be handed in as critical summaries, to be posted in the Moodle.
Dear colleagues,This is our first forum, designed to 1) get you acquainted with what is going to be our major tool in the distance learning course format, 2) establish basic rules for its use, 3) decide on the format of on-line sessions.
Generally the forum will serve us to streamline the subsequent online/in-class discussion. I will use this as our main communication tool. The texts, themes etc. to be discussed will always be specified by Wednesday night the week before the session, together with the names of the people who should introduce the given text/passage to start the debate. I will try to respond to your posts ASAP. The forum will close on Sunday night. I will not set up an automatic subscription to the forum, since some people find the automatic e-mails annoying; so I'll rely on you using your discretion as to when to check the forum to keep up with the discussion. Participation in the forum discussion will form part of the attendance record, with the same rules applying (3 absences allowed).
Last year I used Zoom for online sessions, but we can also agree on using MS Teams.Please let me know your preference by voting for Z (Zoom) or T (Teams).This forum closes on Friday to give me time to arrange the online sessions accordingly.
Looking forward to your responses,Helena Znojemská
By many scholars Chrétien is recognized as the inventor of Arthurian romance and Yvain is in many ways typical of his corpus. Some 150 years later Yvain was rendered into Middle English as Iwaine and Gawaine. We will use a selection of corresponding passages from the French and the Middle English version to explore the core concerns of romance in general, as well as the differences in approach between Chrétien and his English "translator" (to a large extent representative of the distinction between "classical" French and English romance in general). The selected passages comprise about a quarter of the entire text.
Here you will gain a general idea of the plot of the romance. The passages highlighted in blue are those presented in full in the files to be discussed in detail.
selected passages in Middle English, with glosses and prosaic Modern English translation
poetic translation of the corresponding passages from Chrétien's romance
prosaic translation of the corresponding passages from Chrétien's romance
The expanded material provides us with the opportunity to further explore, confirm or attune our perceptions of the text which we formed on the basis of the first reading.
To give you a better idea of the "redemptive part" of Ywain's story, I supply it in full in modern English prosaic translation (also because the summary is very selective here).Selected passages are given in the original with notes and translation, together with parallel passages from Chrétien's source in poetic and prosaic translation
1) I would like to ask each of you to consider how the latter part of the romance stands in relation to the issues we debated last week - the motivation for Ywain's later exploits and their social dimension (or lack thereof, as the case may be). Try to argue your stance with one example from the story.
2) Choose one incident/passage that you find especially illustrative of the differences in approach between Chrétien and the Middle English adaptation and comment on it briefly.
This is a specimen of a so-called tail-rhyme romance - the form Chaucer was parodying in "The Tale of Sir Thopaz" (which, by the way, makes reference to Perceval).
This time our focus will shift more towards the "idea of romance" - because, in what could be seen as a very special sense, Perceval has it all (and not quite): becoming a knight, spectacular adventures, giants, Saracens, magic rings...
So I suggest we first look at Perceval in comparison to Ywaine and Gawaine: what is missing, what is added...
Our investigation of specifically English romance will continue with a brief comparison of the English text with Chrétien's romance - please look at the first 1000 lines or so of Chrétien, as well as the synopsis of his plot, and try to voice your impressions on what the English poem does with the story - in what direction it moves away from Chrétien.
Finally, I'd like to ask you to look at the FORM of the English romance: note the style, the narratorial comments etc.
In this block of sessions we will explore a new romance mode - the type of narrative taken over from late Greek novel. This will lead to a new exploration of the constituent features of romance.We will also see how the narrative is retold before, in and after the period in which the chivalric romance, explored so far, got constituted, and how the idea of "what is romance" evolves in time.
The first session will be devoted to a text that has been repeatedly labelled as the first romance in English, translated from a Latin original way before the concepts of chivalry and courtoisie started to consolidate: the Old English Apollonius of Tyre.
I'd like to ask you to have a look at the Latin version of the story alongside the Old English one, if only to supply the part of the plot that hasn't been preserved in the latter.
What would you say are the aspects of the story stressed in the translation?
Can you see any points of contact in terms of thematic concerns, organization of the narrative etc. between Apollonius and the texts we have read so far? Is there a way they could be read as a similar type of a story, not to say genre?
with facing Modern English translation - for reference
You may wish to compare this narrative, a very popular one in the High Middle Ages, with Apollonius as regards leading concerns, themes etc.
At this stage, I would like to ask you just for brief initial impressions concerning the combination of the "commentary on the state of the world" in the Prologue and the traditional dream vision frame opening. How do they fit together?
I would like to ask you to compare the selected passages from Gower's version of the Apollonius tale with their counterpart in the Latin Historia Apollonii and see how they are transformed.
a) what I would call "patterning for a specific message"> In the last online session, when discussing the unfair treatment Antiochus' daughter received in the original tale we noted that the narrative was more concerned with familial relationships than with love per se, and that it used Antiochus and his daughter to provide a contrast for the relationship between Archistrates and his daughter and Apollonius' own family.I'd like to ask you to look at how Gower organizes his account, through recurrent motifs, highlighted themes and narratorial comment, to endow it with specific (moral?) significance.Think how it relates to the Confessio Amantis framework.
b) what I would call "cultural translation" >Again, previously we discussed how the Old English translator dealt with elements in the story that were unfamiliar in his cultural context. Gower adapts the story in a much more radical fashion.I'd like to ask you to note such instances, whether they concern the representation of specific incidents, the characterization of the protagonist(s) or the portrayal of the social context. Look for points of contact with the texts we have read previously (= the chivalric romance).
Don't try to cover everything: choose what you consider most important / conspicuous / of special interest to you and comment on that.
I don't provide a text this time - I planned we'd use a printed critical edition of the play available from the library. As this is not an option now, I'd like to recommend the following online edition, the only one I was able to locate containing textual notes and commentary:https://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/doc/Per_M/complete/index.html.Since the text of the play is badly preserved, with a number of inconsistencies and problematic readings, such apparatus is absolutely necessary to make sense of the text.
I'd like to ask you to skim through the whole play to see how the story is reorganized. With Gower making an appearance as the chorus, the derivation of the plot (and, to an extent, of its meaning) from his version of the tale is beyond doubt; yet the play introduces further modifications.So, my first suggestion for the forum is, as with Gower, to look at how the tale is organized through recurrent motifs, highlighted themes and narratorial comment by Gower as chorus, and to what effect?
We will look in greater detail at the following passages: I.i-ii; II. - entire; III. prologue, i; and V. - entire; i.e. more or less the dramatic rendering of incidents selected for the previous reading (Gower).They should provide sufficient ground for exploring the thematic structuring of the tale as suggested above. Beyond that, I'd like to ask about your perceptions of the most radical "cultural relocation" (= romancing?) of the tale so far: how does it fit and what does it do in the play as a whole?
The Liflade and te Passiun of Seinte Juliene is one of the three lives of Virgin Martyr saints (the other two being St Katherine of Alexandria and St Margaret) included in a collection of texts relating the virtues and advantages of virginity as a "career option" for women (the so-called Katherine Group). Scholars have associated the collection with other manuscripts and works concerned with female spirituality in general, and anachoritic life in particular - the so-called Wooing Group and most famous of them all, the Ancrene Wisse (Guide for Anchoresses). The manuscript dates to the first quarter of the 13th century, the texts were probably composed around the year 1200 in the area of the Welsh-English border.The individual texts postulate a range of reception contexts but, as the Ancrene Wisse, they seem to be primarily addressed to women of some social standing, contemplating a religious career. Such readers might well read texts in English and French but not in Latin.As you will note, the text develops the Old English alliterative tradition, looking back to earlier native models; at the same time, it works with images of love from the courtly lyric and romance tradition well before the first attested specimens of those genres in English.I'd like to ask you to compare the Liflade version of the narrative of Juliana's life and martyrdom with the Latin source and try to describe the additions and modifications that it introduces. If, as seems likely, the Life engages in a dialogue with romance narrative patterns and motifs, to what end(s) does it use them? Is it more like a general "reshaping" or a strategic application in specific key situations?
The various versions of and references to the Havelok story form a fascinating conglomerate. The earliest account is found in Gaimar's L'estoire des Engleis, our core text and the first history to be written in Anglo-Norman verse (around 1140, the verse form being that of the octosyllabic couplet, which became the "default" form of French romance). There it opens the second part of the Estoire, the only extant today, focused on the history of Anglo-Saxon and Norman England. The first part, focused on history of the Britons, had been pushed into obscurity by Wace's Roman de Brut. Subsequently, we find the story included in several chronicles and elaborated in an Anglo-Norman and a Middle English romance version (all represented in the additional materials). In addition, there is the local Grimsby and Lincoln tradition. Though the basic plot remains the same in all versions (a pair of dispossessed heirs eventually coming into their own), the individual versions differ in a number of details as well as in the names of most of the characters.
I'd like to ask you to compare the versions and see how the narrative is reorganized in the historical and the romance context respectively; where the emphasis is placed, how the sujet changes. In the online session we will talk further about the uses of romance narrative / motivic patterns in historical writing.
The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer's final unfinished work, is a creatively inflected compendium of contemporary genres set in the framework of a tale-telling game. The telling of an individual story relates in a complex way to the character of its narrator: the relation can be smooth ('The Knight's Tale') or tensioned ('The Prioress' Tale') and the matter is further complicated by moments in which Chaucer the narrator seems to take over from the narrator proper, or rather, seems to lend that narrator his "literary expertise" - referencing other texts - and his often ironic voice.
'The Merchant's Tale' can serve as an example of such complex telling. Part of the so-called 'marriage group', it ostensibly reflects, in its disillusioned perspective, the Merchant's own negative marital experience. At the same time, there are many 'generic' voices in the tale: romance, liturgy, Ovidian allusions, fabliau. I suggest you look at and try to analyse the interplay of romance (here specifically the 'courtly love' variety) and fabliau elements in the tale and comment on the result. You might wish to ask what this combination says about the narrator's attitude to his subject-matter and the discourses he employs. Do you think the tale offers a critique of romance - or not?