Monday, May 01, 2006
I was early in my career when Sheila Delany's The Naked Text appeared, and I remember being wowed by its complicated take on feminism, inspired by its ambitious commingling of varied theorists. The cluster of essays she edited for Exemplaria in 2000 (“’Turn it again’: Jewish Medieval Studies and Literary Theory”) arrived just as I was finishing putting together The Postcolonial Middle Ages, and provoked me to think more deeply about what kind of scholarship our "normative training as medievalists" (those are Delany's words) encourages, and how a less Christiancentric Middle Ages might challenge that implicit POV.
Delany's de-centered readings of medieval literature, posed ardently against received frames, helped to bring about a contemporary medieval studies in which the interpeter does not need to adopt a male, Christian, elite point of view -- and indeed can argue vigorously against such adoption. Maybe that doesn't seem like big news any more, but it was not all that long ago when such ideas were radical.
Check out this excellent cluster of essays, just published by Exemplaria to honor Delany's life and work. The concise introduction to her scholarship and a complete bibliography of her publications are especially valuable.