Overview

Alliterative Revivals is the first full-length study of the sophisticated historical consciousness of late medieval alliterative romance. Drawing from historicism, feminism, performance studies, and postcolonial theory, Christine Chism argues that these poems animate British history by reviving and acknowledging potentially threatening figures from the medieval past—pagan judges, primeval giants, Greek knights, Jewish forefathers, Egyptian sorcerers, and dead ancestors. In addressing the ways alliterative poems ...

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Alliterative Revivals

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Overview

Alliterative Revivals is the first full-length study of the sophisticated historical consciousness of late medieval alliterative romance. Drawing from historicism, feminism, performance studies, and postcolonial theory, Christine Chism argues that these poems animate British history by reviving and acknowledging potentially threatening figures from the medieval past—pagan judges, primeval giants, Greek knights, Jewish forefathers, Egyptian sorcerers, and dead ancestors. In addressing the ways alliterative poems centralize history—the dangerous but profitable commerce of the present with the past—Chism's book shifts the emphasis from the philological questions that have preoccupied studies of alliterative romance and offers a new argument about the uses of alliterative poetry, how it appealed to its original producers and audiences, and why it deserves attention now.

Alliterative Revivals examines eight poems: St. Erkenwald, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Wars of Alexander, The Siege of Jerusalem, the alliterative Morte Arthure, De Tribus Regibus Mortuis, The Awntyrs off Arthure, and Somer Sunday. Chism both historicizes these texts and argues that they are themselves obsessed with history, dramatizing encounters between the ancient past and the medieval present as a way for fourteenth-century contemporaries to examine and rethink a range of ideologies.

These poems project contemporary conflicts into vivid, vast, and spectacular historical theaters in order to reimagine the complex relations between monarchy and nobility, ecclesiastical authority and lay piety, courtly and provincial culture, western Christendom and its easterly others, and the living and their dead progenitors. In this, alliterative romance joins hands with other late fourteenth-century literary texts that make trouble at the borders of aristocratic culture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A learned and witty book. . . . Alliterative Revivals is an important effort to bring to the study of these poems the concerns and methods which have transformed literary study in other periods and genres. The book shows courage and resourcefulness working around the gaps in our knowledge of the poems' origins and contexts. Its successes will no doubt encourage others to explore the possibilities of making late medieval literature speak to new concern in new voices."—Arthuriana
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812201581
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2011
  • Series: The Middle Ages Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • File size: 529 KB

Meet the Author

Christine Chism teaches English at Rutgers University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Alliterative Romance: Improvising Tradition 14
2 St. Erkenwald and the Body in Question 41
3 Heady Diversions: Court and Province in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 66
4 Geography and Genealogy in The Wars of Alexander 111
5 Profiting from Precursors in The Siege of Jerusalem 155
6 King Takes Knight: Signifying War in the Alliterative Morte Arthure 189
7 Grave Misgivings in De Tribus Regibus Mortuis, The Awntyrs off Arthure, and Somer Sunday 237
8 Conclusion: The Body in Question - Again 265
Notes 269
Bibliography 299
Index 317
Acknowledgments 329
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