Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Noted with Interest: Three New Books

Three new volumes in the New Middle Ages series look intriguing:

Heather Blurton
From Beowulf through the literature of the crusades and beyond, cannibals haunt the texts of medieval England. Cannibal Narratives attempts to explain their presence. It explores the relationship between the literary trope of cannibalism and the emergence of national identity in medieval England. If England suffered three centuries of invasion - beginning with the Vikings and continuing through Danish and Norman conquests of the island – it also developed a unique and uniquely literary response to these circumstances. This book reads the representations cannibalism so common in English medieval literature through cannibalism’s metaphoric associations with incorporation, consumption, and violent disruption of the boundaries between self and other. The result uncovers the ways in which these representations articulate a discourse of cannibalism as a privileged mode for thinking about English cultural, and ultimately national, identity in the face of the social crisis.

Christina M. Fitzgerald
This book provides a needed new interpretation of the complex cultural meanings of the late medieval, guild-produced, biblical plays of York and Chester, England, commonly known as mystery plays. It argues that the plays are themselves a “drama of masculinity,” that is, dramatic activity specifically and self-consciously concerned with the fantasies and anxieties of being male in the urban, mercantile worlds of their performance. It further contends that the plays in their historical performance contexts produced and reinforced masculine communities defined by occupation, thus visibly naturalizing the world of work as masculine. The book offers welcome insight into a significant, canonical genre of dramatic literature that has been studied previously in devotional and civic contexts, but not yet in its role in the cultural history of masculinity.

Edited by Eileen A. Joy, Myra J. Seaman, Kimberly K. Bell, and Mary K. Ramsey
Table of contents
Medieval Presentism Before The Present--Nancy F. Partner * Through a Glass, Darkly: Medieval Cultural Studies at the End of History--Eileen A. Joy and Myra J. Seaman * PART I: MEDIEVAL, REALITY, TELEVISION * Models of (Im)Perfection: Parodic Refunctioning in Spike TV's The Joe Schmo Show and Geoffrey Chaucer's "Tale of Sir Thopas"--Kimberly K. Bell * "She appears as brightly radiant as she once was foul": Medieval Conversion Narratives and Contemporary Makeover Shows"--Angela Jane Weisl * Outwit, Outplay, Outlast: Moral Lessons from Handlyng Synne and Survivor--Cynthia A. Ho and James Driggers * Back to the Future: Living the Liminal Life in the Manor House and the Medieval Dream Vision--Betsy McCormick * PART II: ENTERTAINING HISTORIES/HISTORICAL ENTERTAINMENT * Medieval Histories and Modern Realism: Yet Another Origin of the Novel--Nancy F. Partner * Sacrificing Fiction and the Quest for the Real [in] King Arthur--Myra J. Seaman and John Green * PART III: MEDIEVAL, REALITY, POLITICS * The Crisis of Legitimation in Bush's American and Henry IV's England--Daniel T. Kline * Torture, Inquisition, Medievalism, Reality, TV--Steve Guthrie * Wolves, Outlaws, and Enemy Combatants--Michael E. Moore * Exteriority Is Not a Negation But a Marvel: Hospitality, Terrorism, Levinas, Beowulf--Eileen A. Joy * Otherword: Opening Time: Psychoanalysis and Medieval Culture--Michael Uebel * Afterword: Intertemporality--Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

More distantly in the future, there's also this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The masculinity idea is interesting - local burghers are still at it....

Chester Mystery Plays are produced every five years in Chester, next June 29 - July 19, 2008.
All details at www.chestermysteryplays.com

Performed open-air on Cathedral Green, the audience is under cover, protected from the vagaries of British summertime.

Join us if you can.