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IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 706: Remoulding Romance and Lay

Tuesday 11 July 2006, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:James Weldon, Department of English & Film Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario
Paper 706-aApocryphal Fairies in Middle English
(Language: English)
James P. Wade, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Folk Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English
Paper 706-bThomas’s Tripartite Soul and Theseus’s Horse: Scholastic and Chaucerian Images of Anger and of Movement
(Language: English)
John L. Griffith, Department of English, National Taipei University of Technology (Taiwan)
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Theology
Paper 706-cSwords in Middle English Romance: Uses and Symbolism
(Language: English)
Ruth Rhoda Roberts, New Hall, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Military History

Abstract paper -a: Critics have recently categorized fairies with the 'secular supernatural' of the later Middle Ages, aligning them with a number of other exotic or otherwise monstrous creatures. But in many later medieval texts, as this paper aims to illustrate, fairies were presented as neither wholly secular nor necessarily supernatural. Accordingly, this study seeks to examine the relationship between Christianity and fairy traditions in later medieval England. It intends to look broadly at a number of Middle English texts in an attempt to locate spaces where these two belief systems intersected, asking both how and why this amalgamation occurred.

Abstract paper -b: In the Knight’s Tale, Chaucer renders Aquinas’s abstract account of anger’s interior spiritual motion with more concrete images of exterior physical movement, and with pointed images of lack of movement and change. His observation of Theseus’s movement explores the liminal character of anger, which tests the ability of the individual and the community to change and to move forward. The tale also considers the problem of how to interpret and to evaluate angry gestures and movements, in a world where expressions of just and unjust anger often take the same verbal, physical, and narrative form.

Abstract paper -c: In Norse sagas and the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, the warrior’s sword is afforded particular attention, being given a name, provenance, and detailed physical description. The Middle English romance much more rarely gives a name or provenance to knights’ swords, and, when it does, the sword is almost never physically described unless it is broken. In spite of this apparent reduction of the sword’s role in romance, this paper will argue that it is not a meaningless remnant of an older tradition (signifier stripped of signified); rather, by exploring sword-symbolism current in the Middle Ages (eg. the ceremony of making a knight), I will demonstrate that the sword required less emphasis because it was an object with an established rule of interpretation.