IMC 2005: Sessions

Session 1617: The Critical Stage Preceding Adulthood in Late Medieval Literature

Thursday 14 July 2005, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Phyllis Gaffney, Department of French, University College Dublin
Paper 1617-aMidlife Crises: Knighthood, Marriage, and Middle Age in English Romance
(Language: English)
Robert Stretter, Yeshiva University, New York
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Sexuality
Paper 1617-bEarly Learning the Hard Way: 'Aweyning' the Adolescent in the Tale of Beryn
(Language: English)
Ben Parsons, School of English, University of Sheffield
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Mentalities

Abstract Paper a) For young men in chivalric romances, from Chrétien de Troyes’s Erec and Yvain to Malory’s Lancelot, the transition from youth to manhood is often marked by conflicting social imperatives: on the one hand is the push toward women, marriage, and family life; on the other is the pressure to seek adventure and fame in the masculine homosocial world of knighthood. Focusing on Middle English romances of brotherhood such as Amis and Amiloun and on Malory’s Morte Darthur, this paper explores the implications of these gendered tensions for chivalric male sexuality, social identity, and interiority.

Paper b) This paper examines the Tale of Beryn, a 15th-century English narrative preserved in one manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The paper locates Beryn among medieval discussions of adolescence, such as the later morality plays, the Pardoner’s Tale and The Parlement of the Thre Ages. Like these texts, Beryn addresses the ‘problem’ of youthfulness, proposing solutions for the vices seen as attendant on this phase of life. However, Beryn also departs from the traditional conception of adolescence, perceiving youth less as an absence of identity than a period marked by distinct characteristics. The full moral implications of this stance are explored.

Paper c) L’Adolescence clémentine de Clément Marot deals with the emancipation of an adolescent in a society of adults, hostile and indifferent to emotions and ambitions of youth. Rules and concepts of education are still missing and wait to be developed and expressed by Montaigne at the end of the century. Clément Marot presents himself as a young man and poet striving to emulate his idols and to be integrated and accepted within the cultural and literary milieu. His attempts vary from slavish imitation to unexpected originality of lyric expression.