IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 1027: Approaches to Magic and Literature

Wednesday 15 July 2009, 09.00-10.30

Organiser:Hsin-Chi Berenst, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Moderator/Chair:Marco Mostert, Onderzoekinstituut voor Geschiedenis en Kunstgeschiedenis, Universiteit Utrecht
Paper 1027-aOf Magical Men and Wicked Witches
(Language: English)
Jacqueline Elizabeth Wessel, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Index terms: Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Women's Studies
Paper 1027-bThe Travelling of King to the Otherworld in Early Irish Literature
(Language: English)
Jennifer de Jong, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Index terms: Language and Literature - Celtic, Law
Paper 1027-cReturn of the Dead
(Language: English)
Hsin-Chi Berenst, Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Middle English
Abstract

Three different approaches towards the supernatural in French (Arthurian), English, and Irish literature.

Paper-a: Looking at 12th- to 15th-century Arthurian literature, one can’t help but noticing a distinct shifting of magic and the supernatural from a male ‘scientific’ sphere to a dark, wicked, female sphere. I will look at how not only magic shifts from one sphere to the other, but also at how this shift of sphere implies a shift within magic itself, its goals, and purposes. I will explore how choice of (literary) genre might play a role in all this and whether being a woman may have consequences for the role of the sorceress: will the sorceress be as important to the story as her male counterpart was before her? And finally, I will look at how the demonization of magic mirrors society’s attitude towards women and magic in the late 15th century. In this paper I will be looking at Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Brittanniae, Jacob van Maerlant’s Merlijns Boek, Lodewijk van Velthem’s Het Boek van Merlijn (both in Middle Dutch), Chrétien de Troyes’ Le Chevalier de la Charrete, the Old French Lancelot en Prose and finally Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, thus covering a period roughly from 1130 to 1470.

Paper -b: The travelling of king to the Otherworld in Early Irish literature. How can a king, bound by so many laws and taboos, leave his people (and wife) to live in the síd (with another wife)?

Paper-c: Comparative approach: the role and evolution/transformation of the supernatural in (English) literature from the Middle Ages up till the 21st century (especially from the Enlightenment and onwards), placed in a historical context and framed within social/ literary theories. Perhaps comparison to non-European literature as well. The ‘classics’ of several eras will be analysed, comparing the role, form, and function of the paranormal within the novels and trying to explain these developments against their historical background, using theories from literary critics/ philosophers/ social theorists to comment on the change of perspective.