Skip to main content

IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 209: Grief, Guilt, and Hypocrisy: The Inner Life of Women in Medieval Romance Literature

Monday 10 July 2006, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Jeff Rider, Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, Wesleyan University, Connecticut
Paper 209-a'¿De qué tenés la cara tan demudada? [Why do you look so pale?]': Guilty by Colour Association - Facial Complexion and Gestures in the Judeo-Spanish Romancero (unconfirmed)
(Language: English)
Messod Salama, Department of French & Spanish, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Index terms: Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Language and Literature - Spanish or Portuguese
Paper 209-bMoral Posturing: Virtue in Christine de Pisan's Livre de Trois Vertus
(Language: English)
Sharon C. Mitchell, Department of English, Ohio State University
Index terms: Education, Rhetoric, Women’s Studies
Paper 209-cThe Limits of Women’s Interiority in Chaucer's Knight’s Tale
(Language: English)
Jamie Friedman, Medieval Studies Program, Cornell University
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English

Abstract paper -a: The medieval Spanish and Sephardic Romancero exhibit a variety of formulaic questions addressed mainly by the husband / brother / father / or lover to the young wife, daughter, or lover concerning the sudden change of her facial complexion and demeanor. This mainly accusatory inquiry is rebuffed by the female protagonist, but mostly masks euphemistically an illicit sexual act which often ends in tragic note. Based on gynaecological and medieval treatises, and use of color and gesture symbolism, this paper will explore the artistic, scientific function, and structure of this formula in the vast Judeo-Spanish ballad repertory.

Abstract paper -b: Is virtue a question of inner motive or merely physical performance? For princesses, Christine de Pisan appears to think it almost exclusively the latter. Her Livre de Trois Vertus frankly advocates hypocrisy when necessary: deferring with curtseys and soft speeches to a hot-headed and incompetent prince, flattering his relatives with welcoming words, smiling and whispering supposed secrets to backstabbing court gossips. With few exceptions - the genuine love demanded towards God and towards the poor and sickly - Christine sees virtuous gestures, tones, and facial expressions as merely the means to gain and maintain power while playing a public role of meekness.

Abstract paper -c: This paper examines the character and function of Emelye in Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale. Specifically, I analyse the extent to which Emelye is allowed a distinct subjectivity within the scope of the tale, how her interior life is regulated and to what purpose. Some critics argue that Emelye functions as the subjective and ideological center of the text, and, thus, that she possesses a fully articulated, if subtly covert, subjectivity. I maintain that it is the delimitation of her interior life, not its full articulation, which makes possible the rest of the interactions within the tale.