IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 1219: Three Seasons: Winter, Spring, and Summer

Wednesday 9 July 2008, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Kristina Hildebrand, Akademin för lärande, humaniora och samhälle, Högskolan i Halmstad
Paper 1219-aRough Weather: The Salutary Effect of Winter in Medieval English Literature
(Language: English)
Robert Stretter, Department of English, Providence College, Rhode Island
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Language and Literature - Middle English
Paper 1219-b'In a somer seson': The Lyric Poetics of the Natural World in Piers Plowman
(Language: English)
Curtis Jirsa, Department of English, Hamilton College, New York
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Lay Piety
Paper 1219-cThe 'Spring Opening' in Medieval Latin Love Lyric: Studied Cliché or Breath of Fresh Air?
(Language: English)
David Angus Traill, Department of Classics, University of California, Davis
Index terms: Daily Life, Language and Literature - Latin

Paper -a:
This paper explores the medieval English origins of the literary motif of winter as a means for achieving moral development and existential clarity, as a bracing natural antidote to the corrupting effect of human society, particularly that of the court. The motif of winter undergoes a fascinating transformation from Old English literature, where it typically figures as an enemy, a hardship to be endured (as seen in the custom of calculating age by numbering one’s ‘winters’), to an experience that keeps one connected to reality and truth. Focusing principally on the Old English elegies and Middle English courtly romances, the paper suggests that the changing representations of winter are linked to the evolution of an increasingly complex and bureaucratic court culture.
Paper -b:
Abstract withheld by request.
Paper -c:
While elsewhere ‘the discourse about the natural world was dominated by the Christian religion,’ this was emphatically not the case in Medieval Latin love lyric. This paper will examine the sources (predominantly pagan) of the Natureingang of 12th-century love poetry and assess to what extent book-learning may have been enhanced by personal experience of the natural world. The role of the arts of poetry and their popularization of such topics as the locus amoenus and the possible influence of vernacular poetry will be explored. Representative selections (in original and translation) from the Carmina Burana and other anthologies will be available on a handout and discussed.