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IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 1511: Observing Emotions and Gestures

Thursday 13 July 2006, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Daniel Smail, Department of History, Harvard University
Paper 1511-aLate Medieval Empathy and the Religious Image in England
(Language: English)
Virginia C. Raguin, Department of Visual Arts, College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts
Index terms: Art History - General, Language and Literature - Middle English, Lay Piety
Paper 1511-b'Ronnen up and doun': Stylized Gesture as Interface between Critical and Pop Culture in The Knight's Tale
(Language: English)
Claire Barbetti, College & Graduate School of Liberal Arts, Duquesne University, Pennsylvania
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Social History
Paper 1511-cOvid's Medieval Metamorphosis: Visceral Responses to Child-Murder and Cannibalism in Chrétien de Troyes' Philomena
(Language: English)
Karen G. Casebier, Department of French & Italian, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Language and Literature - Latin

Abstract paper -a: There is considerable testimony in late-medieval England on the affective nature of images. Margery Kempe's emotional responses are not unusual in kind, however distinguished by particularly intense 'boistows sobbyngys, wepyngys, and lowde cryes'. Her pious recollections repeat patterns of and references to contemporary imagery. This paper addresses other testimony as well as Kempe's on images and text (oral and written) and their reciprocal role in producing emotional commitment in late medieval Christian piety. The challenges to 'feigned images' and vision in general in the English Reformation may reveal exactly how contemporaries believed pictures and statues moved their viewers.

Abstract paper -b: The stylized motion of bodies as textual subjects both participates in and undermines cultural expectations of chivalry and storytelling in Chaucer's The Knight's Tale. Chaucer's written text, conscious of a cultural set of gestures, becomes its own self-conscious gesture, inviting the reader to interact with it much as the listeners attend and answer to the tales told. Drawing from Jeffrey Cohen's and Gail Weiss's work on embodiment and culture, I will examine how the gesture in and of The Knight's Tale becomes the link between expectation and examination, between presenting one story of reality and imagining reality otherwise.

Abstract paper -c: This paper will focus on murder and cannibalism as an emotional and moral response to male violence in Ovid's Metamorphoses and Chrétien de Troyes' Philomena. Although the morality of the murder of Itys and the female characters' emotional reactions to it are described differently in each version of the tale, each author's description of murder and cannibalism evokes a different response in the reader. In Ovid's tale, the women are depicted as mad heroines who inspire symphathy in the reader despite their unnnatural acts, whereas Chrétien's cold-blooded murderesses strike terror into the reader as he deliberately prevents any sympathetic response to the protagonists of this tragic myth.