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IMC 2009: Sessions

Session 808: Heresy and the Vernacular, III: Sex, Debt, and Society

Tuesday 14 July 2009, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Ros Brown-Grant, School of Languages, Cultures & Societies - French, University of Leeds
Paper 808-aThe Political Orthodoxy of Eustache Deschamps
(Language: English)
Elizabeth Kinne, Department of French, Pennsylvania State University
Index terms: Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Political Thought
Paper 808-b'N'a vile en tertre ne en vaus...': Usury and the Topograpy of Dissent in 13th-Century France
(Language: English)
Scott Hiley, Department of French, Reed College, Oregon
Index terms: Canon Law, Economics - General, Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Sermons and Preaching
Paper 808-cThe Meaning of Obscenity in Hue de Rotelande's Ipomedon
(Language: English)
Paola Scarpini, Department of French, University of Sheffield

This papers in this session deal with issues regarding heresy and orthodoxy in medieval France, focusing on the problems created by attempts to construct 'orthodox' urban milieux.

Paper -a:
In his late 14th- or early 15th-century work, Le Miroir de Mariage, Eustache Deschamps explores some of the social and moral ills of his time, namely women, marriage, the clergy, and the English. While none of these topics are unexpected in a late medieval France mired in the Hundred Years' War, Deschamps's unique political vision of his time provides us with a new reading of his diatribe against priests which appears in chapters XLVIII-L. Many of Deschamps's criticisms of the clergy are similar to those levied by the Lollards and other heretical movements of the time. This paper will explore how Deschamps, all while flirting with heresy, attempts to create a new orthodoxy within the French court that is simultaneously religious, social, moral, and political.

Paper -b:
Examining literary, legal, and homiletic texts from the late 12th and early 13th centuries, I will argue that the association of arithmetical excess (more), temporal delay (later), and geographical displacement (somewhere else) in writings on usury during that period defines a 'topography of dissent', by which I mean a hotly contested discursive field represented and understood in spatial terms. I will pay special attention to the ways in which the contours of this conceptual space map onto real geography, as well as to the consequences of this mapping for our understanding of medieval narrative.

Paper -c:
Ipomedon is a 12th-century romance written by an Anglo-Norman clerk, Hue de Rotelande. Modern scholars agree in considering Hue de Rotelande among the major writers of Anglo-Norman poetry/romance and Ipomedon is beginning to be extensively studied. Although the story in itself is quite simple (it tells of the deeds of a young knight who seeks to conquer the lady he loves), the author shows considerable originality, in addition to a clever use of parody and language, in the composition of the poem.
One of the most interesting aspects is the use of obscene vocabulary when referring to the main heroine and to the female characters in general.
Is it just misogyny? Or is there a hidden meaning to this vulgarity? In this paper I will try to suggest possible reasons that might have pushed the author to employ such a vocabulary in his romance and I will try to draw some conclusions concerning the use of 'sex' in a 12th-century text.