Textual Subjectivity: The Encoding of Subjectivity in Medieval Narratives and Lyrics

Textual Subjectivity: The Encoding of Subjectivity in Medieval Narratives and Lyrics

Textual Subjectivity: The Encoding of Subjectivity in Medieval Narratives and Lyrics

Textual Subjectivity: The Encoding of Subjectivity in Medieval Narratives and Lyrics

Synopsis

This book investigates how subjectivity is encoded in the texts of a wide variety of medieval narratives and lyrics - not how they express the subjectivity of individuals, but how subjectivity, escaping the bounds of individuality, is incorporated in the linguistic fabric of their texts. Mostof the poems discussed are in English, and the book includes analyses of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Man of Law's Tale, and Complaint Unto Pity, the works of the Pearl poet, Havelok the Dane, the lyric sequence attributed to Charles of Orleans (the earliest such sequence in English), and manyanonymous poems. It also devotes sections to Ovid's Heroides and to poems by the troubadour Bernart de Ventadorn. For the first time, it brings to bear on medieval narratives and lyrics a body of theory which denies the supposed necessity for literary texts to have narrators or 'speakers', and indoing so reveals the implausibilities into which a dogmatic assumption of this necessity has led much of the last century's criticism.

Excerpt

This book has taken too long to write. One reason for this is the difficulty I had in formulating its subject: I spent years supposing that I wanted to write about medieval representations of subjectivity (as in Spearing 1995) rather than about the encoding of subjectivity in the language of medieval texts. a second reason is that, having defined my topic, I saw that I needed to learn, as best I could, about linguistic approaches to literature that had formed no part of my previous education. Because I have been feeling my way through unfamiliar intellectual territory, I am particularly grateful to the colleagues and friends who have told me what to read and have patiently read and generously criticized drafts of the chapters that follow (and also of some that were discarded along the way). To give an exact reckoning of my debts would fill many pages, but let me at least mention some of my leading creditors: Alison Booth, Cristina Cervone, Monika Fludernik, Elizabeth Fowler, James Goldstein, Kevin Gustafson, Clare Kinney, Barbara Nolan, Lisa Samuels, Maura Tarnoff, Chip Tucker. It goes without saying that they cannot be held responsible for my errors and misunderstandings. I am also indebted to several classes of graduate students at the University of Virginia for letting me try out on them a series of versions of the book and for suggesting many improvements.

I hope that, besides the obvious audience of medievalists, the book’s argument will be of interest to theorists of narrative and of lyric who are not medieval specialists and who, as I venture to claim, have often aimed at general validity for their theories while completely disregarding pre-modern examples. To make it easier for non-medievalists to follow, I have translated medieval English quotations, except those from Chaucer, into modern English. All translations are my own, unless otherwise indicated; I have tried to make them as literal as is compatible with readability. in medieval quotations I modernize spelling to the extent of removing obsolete characters, regularizing the use of i/j and u/v, and making other small changes such as Pité for Pite. Editorial punctuation is sometimes silently modified.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.