Women And Medieval Epic

Overview

This collection of essays explores the place, function, and meaning of women as characters, authors, constructs, and cultural symbols in a variety of epics from the Middle Ages, including those of Persia, Spain, France, England, Germany, and Scandinavia. Medieval epics are traditionally believed to narrate the deeds of men at war. This volume draws our attention not only to the key roles women often play in these narratives, but also to the larger implications they might have for the history of gender. Rather ...

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Overview

This collection of essays explores the place, function, and meaning of women as characters, authors, constructs, and cultural symbols in a variety of epics from the Middle Ages, including those of Persia, Spain, France, England, Germany, and Scandinavia. Medieval epics are traditionally believed to narrate the deeds of men at war. This volume draws our attention not only to the key roles women often play in these narratives, but also to the larger implications they might have for the history of gender. Rather than invite simple cross-cultural generalizations about epic women, however, this book bears witness to the complex gender configurations molded by the rich epic literature of the medieval period.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Women and Medieval Epic resists the conventional masculinization of epic by shifting focus from the martiality of warriors to the empowerment of women performing social work. Through its inclusion of a wide range of works—crusade cycle, romance, chronicle, chanson de geste, and saga—this collection redefines the genre, reading women against stereotype. A revealing examination of how transgressive women relocate the boundaries both of gender and authority.”—Jane Chance, English and Women and the Study of Gender, Rice University

“This volume is a much needed and highly comprehensive re-evaluation of some of the classic medieval epics and fortunately also of some of the lesser-studied and often marginalized works falling into this rather broad literary category. The authors’ refreshing approaches toward their works put aside many stereotypes attached to the genre and lead to fascinating and important new insights concerning the interplay of men and women in the medieval epics.”—Claudia Bornholdt, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“The stimulating and provocative essays in this volume stake out new positions in the study of the medieval epic. In them, a gender studies approach yields paradigm-shifting insights into the dynamic relationships between individuals and communities as imagined in epic texts from the Old English, Middle English, Old French, Occitan, Castilian, Old Norse, Middle High German, Medieval Latin, and Persian traditions. Required reading for all scholars of medieval literature.”—Ann Marie Rasmussen, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, Duke University

“This is a brilliant collection of eleven essays that open up the traditional canon of epic literature. In the process they reveal women’s influence on the action in the narratives and their ability to divert male ideals and replace them with feminine values such as piety. Sharing a concern for community, the texts are chosen from the vernacular languages of Western and Northern Europe (with the exception of Hrotsvit) and include Occitan and Persian texts as well. Genre boundaries are freely blurred as prose accounts (the Icelandic sagas) are included, and other epics show affinities with chronicles or religious writings. The book is well suited for classes in Medieval literature and history as well as in gender studies.”—Jenny Jochens, Professor of History Emerita, Towson University, Maryland

"Poor and Schulman have brought together a group of essays that are as varied in approach to women's roles as they are in the types of works they include...[Women and Medieval Epic] probes the very ideas of epic, masculinity, and traditional women's roles."—Sixteenth Century Jourbanal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403966025
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 12/1/2006
  • Series: New Middle Ages Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Sara S. Poor is Associate Professor of German at Princeton University. Her areas of expertise include Medieval mysticism, medieval women writers, gender studies, medieval German language and literature (especially romance).

Jana K. Schulman is Associate Professor of English in the Department of English at Western Michigan University. Her areas of expertise include Old English and Old Icelandic languages, law and literature, medieval women, and comparative epic.

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Table of Contents

Introduction—Sara S. Poor and Jana K. Schulman
• Winning Women in Two Middle English Alexander Poems—Christine Chism
• Surprisingly Historical Women in the Old French Crusade Cycle—Sarah-Grace Heller
• Women in the Shahnameh: Exotics and Natives, Rebellious Legends, and Dutiful Histories—Dick Davis * Women Characters and the Limits of Patriarchy in the Poema de Mio Cid and Mocedades de Rodrigo—Tom Caldin * What Hrotsvit Did to Virgil: Expanding the Boundaries of the Classical Epic in Tenth-Century Ottonian Saxony—Kate Olson * All About Eve: Memory and Re-collection in Junius 11's Epic Poems Genesis and Christ and Satan
• Ethical Acts and Annihilation: Feminine Heroics in Girart de Roussillon—William Burgwinkle
• Caught Between Worlds: Gendering the Maiden Warrior in Old Norse—William Layher
• 'A Guest is in the Hall': Gendered Violence at Feasts in Icelandic Epic—Jana K. Schulman
• Monstrous Mates: The Leading Ladies of the Nibelungenlied and Völsunga saga—Kaaren Grimstad and Ray M. Wakefield
• Performative Emotion and the Politics of Gender in the Nibelungenlied—Kathryn Starkey

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