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Empire of Magic offers a genesis and genealogy for medieval romance and the King Arthur legend through the history of Europe's encounters with the East in crusades, travel, missionizing, and empire formation. It also produces definitions of "race" and "nation" for the medieval period and posits that the Middle Ages and medieval fantasies of race and religion have recently returned. Drawing on feminist and gender theory, as well as cultural analyses of race, class, and colonialism, this provocative book revises our understanding of the beginnings of the nine hundred-year-old cultural genre we call romance, as well as the King Arthur legend. Geraldine Heng argues that romance arose in the twelfth century as a cultural response to the trauma and horror of taboo acts—in particular the cannibalism committed by crusaders on the bodies of Muslim enemies in Syria during the First Crusade. From such encounters with the East, Heng suggests, sprang the fantastical episodes featuring King Arthur in Geoffrey of Monmouth's chronicle The History of the Kings of England, a work where history and fantasy collide and merge, each into the other, inventing crucial new examples and models for romances to come. After locating the rise of romance and Arthurian legend in the contact zones of East and West, Heng demonstrates the adaptability of romance and its key role in the genesis of an English national identity. Discussing Jews, women, children, and sexuality in works like the romance of Richard Lionheart, stories of the saintly Constance, Arthurian chivralic literature, the legend of Prester John, and travel narratives, Heng shows how fantasy enabled audiences to work through issues of communal identity, race, color, class and alternative sexualities in socially sanctioned and safe modes of cultural discussion in which pleasure, not anxiety, was paramount. Romance also engaged with the threat of modernity in the late medieval period, as economic, social, and technological transformations occurred and awareness grew of a vastly enlarged world beyond Europe, one encompassing India, China, and Africa. Finally, Heng posits, romance locates England and Europe within an empire of magic and knowledge that surveys the world and makes it intelligible—usable—for the future. Empire of Magic is expansive in scope, spanning the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries, and detailed in coverage, examining various types of romance—historical, national, popular, chivalric, family, and travel romances, among others—to see how cultural fantasy responds to changing crises, pressures, and demands in a number of different ways. Boldly controversial, theoretically sophisticated, and historically rooted, Empire of Magic is a dramatic restaging of the role romance played in the culture of a period and world in ways that suggest how cultural fantasy still functions for us today.
This volume addresses the construction and artistic representation of traumatic memories in the contemporary Western world from a variety of inter- and trans-disciplinarity critical approaches and perspectives, ranging from the cultural, political, historical, and ideological to the ethical and aesthetic, and distinguishing between individual, collective, and cultural traumas. The chapters introduce complementary concepts from diverse thinkers including Cathy Caruth, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Homi Bhabha, Abraham and Torok, and Joyce Carol Oates; they also draw from fields of study such as Memory Studies, Theory of Affects, Narrative and Genre Theory, and Cultural Studies. Traumatic Memory and the Political, Economic, and Transhistorical Functions of Literature addresses trauma as a culturally embedded phenomenon and deconstructs the idea of trauma as universal, transhistorical, and abstract.
The themes of magic and the supernatural in medieval romance are here fully explored and put into the context of thinking at the time in this first full study of the subject.
Investigations into the heroic - or not - behaviour of the protagonists of medieval romance.
A sophisticated survey of the best recent work on bodies and desires across cultures and through time, this collection of essays shows how gender, sexuality, and power are historically connected and practically intertwined. Contributors include Susan Bordo, Judith Butler, Jane Collier, John D'Emilio, Michelle Rosaldo, and others. 28 illustrations.
First comprehensive collection to be devoted to Sir Bevis, the most popular Middle English romance.
John Gower wrote in three languages - Latin, French, and English - and their considerable and sometimes competing significance in fourteenth-century England underlies his trilingualism. The essays collected in this volume start from Gower as trilingual poet, exploring Gower's negotiations between them - his adaptation of French sources into his Latin poetry, for example - as well as the work of medieval translators who made Gower's French poetry available in English. "Translation" is also considered more broadly, as a "carrying over" (its etymological sense) between genres, registers, and contexts, with essays exploring Gower's acts of translation between the idioms of varied literary and non-literary forms; and further essays investigate Gower's writings from literary, historical, linguistic, and codicological perspectives. Overall, the volume bears witness to Gower's merit and his importance to English literary history, and increases our understanding of French and Latin literature composed in England; it also makes it possible to understand and to appreciate fully the shape and significance of Gower's literary achievement and influence, which have sometimes suffered in comparison to Chaucer. Elisabeth Dutton is Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. Contributors: Elisabeth Dutton, Jean Pascal Pouzet, Ethan Knapp, Carolyn P. Collette, Elliot Kendall, Robert R. Edwards, George Shuffleton, Nigel Saul, David Carlson, Candace Barrington, Andreea Boboc, Tamara F. O'Callaghan, Stephanie Batkie, Karla Taylor, Brian Gastle, Matthew Irvin, Peter Nicholson, J.A. Burrow, Holly Barbaccia, Kim Zarins, Richard F. Green, Cathy Hume, John Bowers, Andrew Galloway, R.F. Yeager, Martha Driver

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