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IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 511: Power and Performativity

Tuesday 11 July 2006, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Alexander Vaughan, Robinson College, University of Cambridge
Paper 511-aStudent Violence in Late 13th-Century Paris: Spectacular Communication
(Language: English)
Hannah Wheeler, Wadham College, University of Oxford
Index terms: Education, Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Mentalities
Paper 511-bUnity through Gesture: Liturgy in Early Medieval Rome
(Language: English)
John Romano, Department of History, Harvard University
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Liturgy, Religious Life, Social History
Paper 511-cThe Threat of a Lamenting Female Subject in the Nibelungenlied
(Language: English)
April Henry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - German, Sexuality, Women’s Studies

Abstract paper -a: This paper examines the outbreaks of student violence in late 13th-century Paris, setting them in the context of the crises besetting the university, jurisdictional disputes, and ongoing squabbling between the regulars and seculars. Using diverse sources - literary, legal, hagiographical, and epistolary - violence will be examined as communication, and a repertoire of forms of student violence established; these carnivalesque events often drew on forms of violence from the judicial, military or chivalric repertoires, for legitimization or parody. By making a public display of themselves in this way, students created spectacles of violence to communicate distinct messages about society.
Abstract paper -b: My paper will analyze the means by which the Syrian pope Sergius I (687-701) used liturgical gesture to unify a Rome wracked by political, economic, and social dissension. He crafted a liturgy for Easter and the week following it that would serve to bring together the factions that had revolted against his election, to show the city as one community of faith behind the pope, and to fortify the city against outside powers. The gestures displayed in the processions and masses he organized were an essential part of his plan to hold the population together in a precarious period.
Abstract paper -c: Kriemhild of the Nibelungenlied explores the liberating power of the female lament. As a courtly woman who exploits the effects of her feminine obligations to grieve for her dead husband, Kriemhild shows that women in medieval texts can alter their destinies and launch political change. I argue that by acting on her grief, Kriemhild ultimately overrides her femininity and achieves a subversive form of subjectivity. However, Kriemhild's final transgressions conclude in a tragedy that underlines the peril of female subjectivity, a subjectivity that threatens the gender boundaries and foundation of courtly society.