IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 1102: Through a Mirror Darkly: Late Medieval English Dream Visions

Wednesday 4 July 2018, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Rosanne Gasse, Department of English, Brandon University, Manitoba
Paper 1102-aMetaphysical Presentation of the Dream Visions in Piers Plowman
(Language: English)
Tomonori Matsushita, Department of English, Senshu University, Tokyo
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Religious Life
Paper 1102-bRemembering Melting Authors' Names: The House of Fame's Mountain of Ice
(Language: English)
Kathleen Cawsey, Department of English, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Literacy and Orality, Manuscripts and Palaeography
Paper 1102-cWith Dreams Like These: Reading Pearl as Nightmare
(Language: English)
Matthew McCall, Department of English, University of Liverpool
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English, Lay Piety

Paper -a:
In William Langland’s Piers Plowman, the dreamer Will had eight dream-visions, which contained various types of visions that reflected the contemporary society, vulgar religious organisations, and the ideals of the Holy Church in Will’s memory. Memory is ‘the power of reproducing what has been learned and retained esp. through nonconscious associative mechanisms: conscious or unconscious evocation of things past’ (Web3Dic). In the poem, Langland’s ideal is to organise a genuine Holy Church that reflects Christianity in its original form with its fundamental elements: ‘Do-wel, Do-bet, and Do-best’. The poet, however, expresses his ideal in terms of fragmentary metaphysical images of Christianity. Medieval readers had capability of converting fragments to the original ideal unity by using the power of memory beyond time and space.

Paper -b:
Fame’s house, perched on the mountain of ice in Geoffrey Chaucer’s House of Fame, evokes classical images of Fortune’s house being perched on an unstable foundation. As scholars such as Piero Boitani and J.A.W. Bennett have noted, Chaucer’s conflation of Fame and Fortune emphasises the fickleness of fame. Fame is notoriously capricious regarding which great writers of the past are remembered; and the melting names carved into the side of the mountain are emblematic of the random quality of Fame’s favour. This paper will explore the connection of writing and memory in The House of Fame.

Paper -c:
Late medieval dream poetry is often characterised by its locus amoenus, and texts set in such a place carry with them the baggage of generic and thematic expectation. True to the subversion of tropes seen elsewhere in the Gawain-poet’s work, Pearl disrupts and interrogates such assumptions, transferring the didactic focus of the poem from Dreamer to Reader. Pearl is also a masterful example of the shift in vision poetry from an earlier poetics of consolation to an increasingly anxious poetic form. Starting from David Aers’ suggestion that Pearl is most certainly not a poem that provides solace, this paper will attempt to recast the Jeweller’s dream as something closer to what we might refer to as nightmare, paying particular attention to the setting of the poem and the interactions contained within.