Thursday, August 18, 2016

Assembling Arthur at ICMS 2017

by Leila K. Norako

Arthur, about to disassemble
the Giant of St. Michael's Mount.
By G. H. Thomas (1862)  
Greetings all! I am thrilled to be here as Blogger #5, and am currently fast at work on a couple of longish posts that I hope to share in the near future. In the meantime, I want to share a description of the roundtable session that Leah Haught and I have co-organized for Kzoo 2017. We're looking for more panelists/contributors, and would love to hear from anyone interested in Arthurian romance and "compilational reading." 

As that term suggests, Arthur Bahr's work was a direct source of inspiration as we created the session, and I'm beyond delighted to say that he's agreed to serve as a respondent. You can find the full description below, and are more than welcome to send abstracts our way (to and anytime between now and September 15th. 

Assembling Arthur

            When we teach classes on the Arthurian tradition, many of us rely on anthologies such as James Wilhelm’s The Romance of Arthur or collections such as the William Kibler and Carleton Carroll edition of Chr├ętien de Troyes’ “complete” Arthurian Romances for the Penguin Classics Series.  While indispensable to such courses, these assemblages present Arthurian texts in ways vastly different from how they appear in medieval manuscripts.  Many medieval Arthurian texts, for instance, survive in a single manuscript alongside non-Arthurian writings and images from a wide array of diverse traditions and styles.  Indeed, even when a single text is extant in more than one manuscript or a single manuscript includes more than one Arthurian text, the different materials surrounding these contributions to the larger legend highlight the numerous interpretive potentialities associated with Arthuriana instead of advancing a fixed meaning for a given contribution.  Drawing on Arthur Bahr’s recent suggestion that literary value can be continuously (re)discovered among the interchanges between “codicological form and textual content” (Fragments and Assemblages 2013), this roundtable seeks to explore Arthurian manuscripts, broadly defined, as compilations.  What insights are gained about individual texts and/or the larger legend as a whole when we accept Bahr’s invitation to read “compilationally”?  How might such exchanges between codicology and formalism open up new avenues for future study of Arthuriana?  And how might accounting for the complex realities of the Arthurian manuscript tradition in the classroom invite our students to participate in these alternate modes of critical engagement?  

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