Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brantley Bryant: Request for the Saturnine

by KARL STEEL

Here's a request from Brantley Bryant worth sharing with you all:
I would like to enlist your help in a somewhat unusual project. I'm writing an essay for the forthcoming punctum books collection Dark Chaucer,* and I'm trying on something that departs from the usual format of a scholarly article --it's a bit of an experiment.

If you're a student, teacher, or lover of Chaucer (and/or medieval literature in general) and you've struggled with depression, anxiety, or mental illness ("officially" diagnosed or otherwise), I hope that you might be in touch and consider contributing anonymously to this essay. I would like to interweave a discussion of Saturn's role in the *Knight's Tale* with stories of contemporary medievalists' experiences with Saturnian melancholy. It's hard to tell which direction this project will take, but I hope it might also serve as a way of further opening up the discussion of the way mental illness is handled in academic life.

If this sounds interesting to you, or you'd like more information, please email me at brantley.bryant@sonoma.edu

Very best wishes, -Brantley
If you're curious: I'm also writing for this project. I will engage with Custance begging to be killed (MLT, II.515-17), Emelye's rejected request not to be married off (KT I.2296-362), and Virginia begging her father to think of some other remedy than killing her (PhyT VI.235-6): three instances of three women who know what it means to be a character in a man's textual world. One seeks death; the other tries to exempt herself from the comic/political reconciliation; the other wants not to be only a creature of her father and of the exemplum. None gets what she wants: one forced to live; one to love; one to die, all of them given just enough awareness of being in their stories to know that they want out.

2 comments:

Jeffrey J. Cohen said...

Both projects (yours, Karl, and Brantley's) sound interesting.

On melancholia, from the ITM archives comes a good deal of evidence that it in fact motivates my life as a blogger.
Small summer funk
Lulls, textures and topographies
Post tenure depression
work
a calm
Orion's belt
Halloween / mortality
2010
powerlines in our bloodlines

Bacchanal in the Library said...

Thank you for posting this request, I believe I'll be sending Bryant an e-mail. I'm especially curious how academia responds to mental illness (I hope the adverbs 'patiently' and 'considerately' apply) as well as what kind of research/scholarship has been conducted on mental illness in medieval lit (I'm sure quite a bit has been done, I just haven't investigated yet).