The Romance of Origins: Language and Sexual Difference in Middle English Literature

By Gayle Margherita | Go to book overview

Afterword: The Medieval Thing

In his essay, "The Freudian Thing," Lacan explored the historical and intellectual conditions for a "return to Freud."1 In a sense, this book has attempted to interrogate some of the ethical and epistemological conditions for a "return to" the medieval past -- not a direct return, in the manner of a time traveler, but rather a circuitous and difficult move that looks both backward and forward at the same time. What does it mean "to return?" Traditionally, the notion of a return to the past has implied a faithful reconstruction of the material and moral reality of history. This was the return mandated, for example, by D. W. Robertson in the early 1960s. More recently, historicist readers of the Middle Ages have attempted to turn away from the politically conservative "compulsion to repeat" upon which Robertsonianism seemed to insist, seeking instead to foreground different histories. In Caroline Walker Bynum's work, this new emphasis resulted in fascinating new evidence for a feminine religious sub-culture; in the work of literary historicists, the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 has taken on unprecedented importance. What remains unchanged, however, are the terms within which this new "return" is couched: both new and old historicisms position themselves emphatically against the lure of the present, and, in many cases, the seductions of theory. Despite their debt to the social and cultural changes of the last two decades, new histories mirror old in their insistence upon the recoverability of the past-as-event: historicists, like historians, see themselves as archaeologists or "translators" rather than Pandarus-like mediators. This return differs from its predecessors only insofar as the artifact, the medieval "thing" itself, is perceived to be a new thing.

But what is this medieval thing, to which we must return? Within psychoanalytic discourse, the "thing" is the originary lost object, jettisoned into the irrecoverable real with the entry into language. It is explicitly a maternal and corporeal thing, and thus, belatedly (nachträglich), a gendered thing. In his seminar on the ethics of psychoanalysis,2 Lacan

-153-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Romance of Origins: Language and Sexual Difference in Middle English Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction: the Psychic Life of the Past 1
  • 1. Margery Kempe and the Pathology of Writing 15
  • 2. Body and Metaphor in the Middle English Juliana 43
  • 3 - Women and Riot in the Harley Lyrics 62
  • 4. Originary Fantasies and Chaucer's Book of the Duchess 82
  • 5. Historicity, Femininity, and Chaucer's Troilus 100
  • 6. Father Aeneas or Morgan the Goddess 129
  • Afterword: the Medieval Thing 153
  • Appendix 163
  • Notes 179
  • Bibliography 203
  • Index 211
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 214

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.