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IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 607: Gender and Knighthood in Medieval Romance

Tuesday 4 July 2023, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Catherine J. Batt, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Paper 607-aHousehold Tools, Witches' Weapons: The Fight of the Old Hags in the Roman de Perceforest
(Language: English)
Ana Inés Aldazabal, Independent Scholar, Buenos Aires
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - French or Occitan, Mentalities
Paper 607-bGendered Mobilities in the Book of the Knight Zifar
(Language: English)
Mechthild Albert, Institut VII: Romanistik, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Index terms: Language and Literature - Spanish or Portuguese, Women's Studies
Paper 607-cBound to Be Free: Knots, Textiles, and the Regulation of Drives in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
(Language: English)
Trevor Hope, Faculty of Human & Social Sciences, Yaşar University, Izmir
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Political Thought, Sexuality

Paper -a:
The Roman de Perceforest can perhaps boast of featuring the first fictional account of a witches' Sabbath. However marginal to the main plot of the romance, the episode in which a knight witnesses a gathering of women and demons takes on a new dimension in light of its placement within the development of the stereotype of the Sabbath. While its common points with early accounts of witches' gatherings contribute to the debate over its dating, the points at which Perceforest and the legal and religious sources diverge the most reflect the romance's belonging to the literary tradition and its ties to popular culture. In this paper, I will explain Perceforest's early feminisation of the stereotype of the witch and its unconventional inclusion of an aerial fight between women by looking at literary conventions, folk motifs, and the representation of witches in visual sources. The examination of this episode will contribute to clarify the mechanisms by which the notion of diabolical witchcraft began to develop, not only in the minds of specialised judicial and religious authorities, but also in other segments of society.

Paper -b:
The plot of the Book of the Knight Zifar (early 14th century), the first romance of chivalry written in Castilian, essentially corresponds to the narrative pattern constitutive of this genre: the knight's ride in search of adventures and trials to win fame, honour, and power through bravery and moral exemplarity. The novel thus focuses on a type of male mobility imagined as exemplary within the feudal system, while women appear as its objects. Centered on the protagonist, his second-born son, and his knave the planned contribution will identify and analyse forms of male mobility that serve to gain recognition, power, and status. Complementary to this, the female characters turn out to be not only objects but even victims of male mobility: Zifar's wife Grima is kidnapped by pirates and the Infanta Seringa is portrayed as a victim of male raids aimed at her realm and her marital conquest. In this perspective, the plot of this chivalric novel proves to be the result of the narrative entanglement of gendered mobilities. To focus on the cartographic path networks that quasi emerge from these mobilities on the basis of contemporary mind maps, i.e. to combine spatial, material and cognition aspects in an innovative way, promises stimulating insights regarding gender ideas and relationships.

Paper -c:
This paper analyses knots, ties, folding and fabrics in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The text and Freudian thought converge on the notion of 'binding' in the regulation of drives. The poem necessitates a dialectical reading of the drives in which, ultimately, what binds the drives is the drives, themselves; knotting effects a form of self-regulation that establishes the individual as a node in a network of mutual and self-binding contracts. Crucially, the poem also contains repeated reference to ideas of undoing, unraveling, and fraying. Ultimately, it will be suggested that binding and unbinding are themselves mutually dependent functions and that this insight also suggests an approach to the paradox of forms of freedom which depend upon willful submission to constraint.