IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 1611: Pleasure, Sound, and Space from Pre-Conquest to Late Medieval Literature

Thursday 4 July 2013, 11.15-12.45

Organiser:Jennifer Harmer, Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies (MEMS), University of Kent
Moderator/Chair:Michael Rodman Jones, School of English, University of Nottingham
Paper 1611-aThe Inclusion and Function of Acoustic Borders in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
(Language: English)
Jennifer Harmer, Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies (MEMS), University of Kent
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Manuscripts and Palaeography
Paper 1611-bThe Birth of the Infirmary: Linguistic Constructions of the Spaces and Institutions of Healing in Devotional and Instructional Texts
(Language: English)
Michael Leahy, Department of English & Humanities, Birkbeck, University of London
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Medicine
Paper 1611-cOld English Drēam: Semantics and Contexts
(Language: English)
Steven John Alan Breeze, Department of English & Humanities, Birkbeck, University of London
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Religious Life
Abstract

The three papers respectively take as point of study the presentation of pleasure, sound, and space from pre-conquest to late Medieval literature.

Paper -a:
This paper will look at the incorporation of soundscapes that frame key moments of the Medieval English text, taking as point of study Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Analysis will focus on how sound is incorporated within the textual framework, recognising how such prominence of sound demonstrates the importance of sonority within the creation and construction of the written form. These acoustic boarders function as auditory signals to the reader/audience, sounding the moral undertone or overarching message of the work.

Paper -b
This paper will take as its subject the way that monastic infirmaries are articulated in instructional literature produced in late medieval England. It will examine the particular types of discourse that circulate around the descriptions of such spaces particularly and enquire how healing spaces are imagined in such texts. I will argue that the infirmary is marked as a ‘deviant’ space by accounts that hinge between the necessity of creating a healing space of leisure and even pleasure for its inmates and the demands placed upon monastic authorities of regulating all who live under its rule.

Paper -c:
This paper will consider the use of the word dream when used in Old English literature. Primarily meaning both ‘joy’ and ‘music’, I intend to argue that the term was used ambiguously by poets and may have had an additional clandestine meaning, cognate with modern English ‘dream’. In addition I will discuss the different ways in which dream was used according to religious and other social contexts, and will also consider what the use of dream indicates for Anglo-Saxon understanding of the relationship between creativity and pleasure.