IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 1231: Middle English Romance and Arthuriana, I

Wednesday 11 July 2012, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Johnny McFadyen, Department of English / Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Bristol
Paper 1231-aPlaits Wretched, False Oaths, and Honest Knights
(Language: English)
John C. Ford, Arts, Lettres & Langues, Université Jean-François Champollion
Index terms: Canon Law, Language and Literature - Middle English, Law, Rhetoric
Paper 1231-b'The vout of thy visage has wounded us all!': Penetrative Gazing in the Alliterative Morte Arthur
(Language: English)
Boyda J. Johnstone, Department of English, Fordham University
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Rhetoric
Paper 1231-cChrétien de Troyes' 'Call of Paul': The Place of Subjectivity in a Critique of Christian Violence in The Knight with the Lion
(Language: English)
David Boyd, Glasgow Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, University of Glasgow
Index terms: Biblical Studies, Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Philosophy, Political Thought

Paper -a:
One of the inviolable rules for a chivalric hero in any romance was not to be forsworn when making an oath. This did not, however, require him to be completely honest. The importance was to respect the literal meaning in any oath, even when it meant outright deception misleading all present. Theoretically, God would know that the knight had not lied to Him in His name, so if the rest of the world was tricked, honour was preserved and the knight was unpunished, though by rights it seems he should have been. It was also useful for avoiding the consequences of a ‘rash boon’, when an open promise was given. This theme will be examined in a number of ME verse romances, including Amis and Amiloun, Athelston, Sir Orfeo, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, etc.

Paper -b:
A tale of martial grandeur and knightly conquest, most of the Middle English Alliterative Morte Arthure takes place on the battlefield. Yet, in contrast with its sweeping battles and rapidly moving plot, at certain key moments in the text, the MA-poet pauses to focus on the eyes of the warriors, which brim with tears over the death of a fellow, or fasten resolutely on an (physical or metaphorical) object of conquest. Scholars have yet to recognize the prominent role which sight and vision play in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, as it deploys human emotion as counterbalance to brutal acts of war. Such striking affectivity pierces the hearts of readers as well, who thus become complicit in the violence, but also learn to question its extremity. As this paper will argue, the emphasis on expressive eyes in the Alliterative Morte Arthure draws its readers into a ‘matrix of gazes’ within the tale, attempting to sway their allegiance towards the once and future king, but still implicitly encouraging them to question the gaze’s manipulative effects.

Paper -c:
This analysis offers a critical approach to Chrétien de Troyes’ romance, The Knight with the Lion, arguing that the romance is an ethical critique of the Christian chivalric culture of violence, especially in relation to Christ’s firmly binding law of nonviolence and the lawmaking violence of the crusader state.