Thursday, May 01, 2008

Cultural Diversity in the British Middle Ages: A Small "Yahoo!"

Nice cover, eh? I like the little man peering out of the tower best.

And if a volume possesses a cover, it must be real. There's a smallish problem: the author line is supposed to read "Edited By Jeffrey Jerome Cohen." I'm told the error will be swiftly fixed.

The cover is supposed to be a "promo giveaway" at Kalamazoo ... I have no idea what that means. Maybe they'll make it into little bookmarks?

The book is on schedule for August publication. Here's the official description:
Through close readings of both familiar and obscure medieval texts, the contributors to this volume attempt to read England as a singularly powerful entity within a vast geopolitical network. This capacious world can be glimpsed in the cultural flows connecting the Normans of Sicily with the rulers of England, or Chaucer with legends arriving from Bohemia. It can also be seen in surprising places in literature, as when green children are discovered in twelfth-century Yorkshire or when Welsh animals begin to speak of the long history of their land’s colonization. The contributors to this volume seek moments of cultural admixture and heterogeneity within texts that have often been assumed to belong to a single, national canon, discovering moments when familiar and bounded space erupt into unexpected diversity and infinite realms.

And here is Laurie Finke's generous endorsement:
This intriguing collection of essays sets out to trouble the myth of the English nation, calling into question the wholeness, autonomy, insularity, and inevitability of the political entity we now call the British Isles. Cohen’s “infinite realms project” recasts the island (the symbol of totality and autonomy) as an archipelago (a symbol of fragmentation and interdependence) whose current political configuration can in no way simply be read back into the past. The essays, on texts both familiar and arcane, not only invite us to rethink the textual canons of Great Britain’s four main ethnic groups, but more radically to interrogate the fictiveness of political identity itself. This is not just another collection touting “cultural diversity” among hypostasized identities; these essays invite us to reimagine political collectivities, rethinking the ways in which they encounter one another, clash, assimilate, and reform around new identities.

Laurie A. Finke
Kenyon College; co-author of King Arthur and the Myth of History
Start saving your pennies now: the book is going to cost $74.95. Fashioning a cover in such an attractive shade of green requires much expensive pigment.


Karl Steel said...

The price: as always, ouch. It needs saying again: Electronic delivery of books for, say, $15 a pop would be welcome. (Some) libraries will still buy the 'real thing,' but many more people would actually read the material! Perhaps Palgrave should get something going with Amazon's Kindle: I'd hate all the DRM crap, but it'd be a start until someone developed an opensource system (or cracked the Kindle).

BUT, yes, congrats! I look forward to reading this (and congrats to JKW, too, for getting what I presume is his talking Welsh animals piece mentioned in the blurb).

And, also, JJC, congrats on having such an excellent herald in Finke: her review of ODM in Speculum pleased you, I trust.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Thanks. I am seriously thinking of publishing in Open Access fora from now on. The price of books and of subscriptions to periodicals defies reason.

Karl, haven't seen the review (but knew it was coming). Is it in the latest Speculum? When did you receive yours?

Karl Steel said...

It'd be a pity, though, if you could't continue your relationship with this series. Otherwise, there are venues like this.

Got my Speculum 2 days ago.

Anonymous said...

That noise you hear? It's me writing to my library...

Congratulations! And how excellent, as Karl says, to see JKW's animals in the blurb.


JKW said...

Oh, cool, my talking critters made the blurb!

I'm requesting that Columbia buy a copy of this...

Eileen Joy said...

Clearly, anyone even associated with this book is automatically brilliant.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

Res ipsa loquitur.

Liza Blake said...

Very snazzy cover. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: woodcuts are the highest form of art that humankind will ever achieve. We just peaked early.

Anonymous said...


And how ironic that my current inspiration to thinking about the relationship between ethnicity, material culture and present day desires for the past comes from reading about archaeology in the alleys of Washington DC by Barbara Little and Nancy Kassner.

Trading places ....