What Is Medieval European Literature?

medieval armenian manuscript - Photo by Retlaw Snellac Photography / Flickr

It is a great pleasure for us to publish the first issue of Interfaces. A Journal of Medieval European Literatures, offering free availability for all.

Five Ways Gawain Kicks Lancelot’s Ass

Sir Gawain, by Howard Pyle from The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (1903)

Here are five ways in which Gawain shows Lancelot who’s boss!

What Does Normal Look Like?

Stephanie Trigg

Thomas Hoccleve was a fifteenth-century clerk and poet who suffered a mental breakdown around 1416. In his poem, which we now call Hoccleve’s Compleint, he describes his depression and anxiety about not being able to convince his friends and co-workers that he has recovered.

Is it better to be right or left-handed? The view from the 9th century

left handed - photo by Derek Bruff / Flickr

Was it really bad to be left-handed in the Middle Ages? Or was it better than being right-handed? The 9th century writer of all things unusual, al-Jahiz, weighs in.

A Comparative Analysis of the Concepts of Holy War and the Idealized Topos of Holy Warrior In Medieval Anatolian And European Sources

story of the crusaders

This thesis focuses on the relations between the idea of holy war and the portrayals of holy warriors in medieval narratives composed by those in the service of power-holders.

The Experience of Growing Up in Medieval Society

Medieval Children - Omne Bonum - Royal 6 E.VII, f.67v (det). Wiki Commons.

This session (#508) was one of several at Leeds devoted to exploring childhood in the Middle Ages. Our presenters talked about the stereotypes of adolescence, and what the coroner’s rolls revealed about the deaths (and lives) of medieval children.

Understanding Medieval Women Writers through Subversive Literature: The Case of Christina of Markyate and Harriet Ann Jacobs

Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897)

This paper proposes two ways to approach medieval literature in general and medieval women in particular (both texts written by women or their vitas).

Pearl, translated by Sophie Jewett

Pearl

We are very proud to offer our first ebook: Pearl, translated by Sophie Jewett.

Magna Carta Conference Offers New Insights Into The 800-year-old Document

British Library's Magna Carta, photo credit Joseph Turp

Magna Carta just celebrated its 800th birthday this past Monday. In honour of this incredible milestone, King’s College London, and the Magna Carta Project, hosted a 3 day conference dedicated to this historic document.

The Medieval Sleeping Beauty

medieval sleeping beauty - by Henry Meynell Rheam

I’ve since read an early version of the Sleeping Beauty story from the actual fourteenth century, and it’s much darker than the modern version, although it does hold an interesting secret for those who love the stories of the Round Table.

Genre Medievalisms: Geek Goes Chic!

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in HBO's, 'Game of Thrones'. Photo courtesy of blastr.com (TV Guide)

Is Cersei a collection of bad medieval stereotypes? Have nerds gone mainstream? Were American cowboys a modern retelling of the medieval knight? Put down that comic, put away your bag of dice, and indulge your inner nerd.

Courtly Magic in the Middle Ages

British Library - Additional 10292   f. 87   Merlin gives letter to Pendragon and Uther

The possibility of the everyday use of magic by courtiers is emphasized by the employment of magic advisors and, very frequently, astrologists. The medieval court was a place for the elite, and thus the educated sector of society at this time.

Merlin: The Medieval Embodiment of Overcoming the Devil

Merlin and Uther Pendragon - British Library Royal 20 A II   f. 3v

Merlin, child of a demon and pious woman, first appears in late twelfth century literature and develops uncanny prophetic abilities and unnatural powers rooted in his supernatural heritage, transforming him into a mysterious figure empowered by knowledge and cloaked in dichotomies resulting from his mixed parentage.

Riddles in the Dark Ages

oldenglishriddles

Latin riddles depended on knowledge of a specific subject in order to be deciphered, while English riddles were often about common things like the weather.

The Strategy of Challenges: Two Beheading Games In Medieval Literature

beheading - British Library Royal 10 E IV   f. 208

The Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and its Old Irish ancestor The Feast of Bricriu recount a remarkable stranger’s challenge to the hero, in effect, ‘You can chop off my head if you’ll let me return the blow.’

Top Ten Superheroes of the Middle Ages

Medieval Superheroes

Even in medieval times they had stories and legends about people with extraordinary gifts – saints and warriors with special powers. Here is our list of ten superheroes from the Middle Ages.

’I’m gonna git Medieval on your ass’: Pulp Fiction for the 90s – the 1190s

Pulp Fiction medieval

We feel confident in asserting that there are any number of telling informative analogies between Pulp Fiction and medieval chivalric literature, particularly Arthurian romance.

Moses as a Germanic hero? Biblical Poetry in Anglo-Saxon England

Samantha Zacher

Samantha Zacher talks about Anglo-Saxon Jewish heroes.

Books of Art: 20 Medieval and Renaissance Women Reading

Saints Christina and Ottilia by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1506)

I love to read. I also love books depicted in art. I became fascinated with Medieval and Renaissance pictures of women reading or with books. I noticed while I was walking around the National Gallery, Musèe Cluny and the Louvre recently that there are many beautiful images of women reading or with books. Saints, sinners, and laywomen; I wanted to share a few of my favourites. Here are 20 works of art of women and their books

How to Create a Legend? An Analysis of Constructed Representations of Ono no Komachi in Japanese Medieval Literature

Ono no Komachi - Painting by Kikuchi Yosai (1781–1878)

Although the historical figure known to us as Ono no Komachi (ca. 825–ca. 900) is considered to have been a famous and talented female court poet of the Heian Period in Japan, not much is known about her actual life.

Imagining Islam: The Role of Images in Medieval Depictions of Muslims

Song of Roland

Instead, one finds accurate, even rather compassionate accounts of Islamic theology side by side with bizarre, antagonistic, and even hateful depictions of Muslims and their belief.

Petrarch’s Africa I-IV: A Translation and Commentary

"Africa" V.2 - Petrarch's 1501 Latin collection. First page of poem.

English-speaking scholars have neglected Francesco Petrarch’s self-proclaimed masterwork, the Africa.

Discovering hidden music in the Bestiary of Love

Elizabeth Eva Leach

Elizabeth Eva Leach speaks on ‘Richard de Fournival Across the Disciplines’

Breaking the Mold: The First Woman in Italian Literature

Fabian Alfie

Active between 1260-1270, the woman known only as La Compiuta Donzella (the fulfilled damsel) attracted the attention of several male writers. Two of them were astonished that such wisdom could be found in a female.

What Women Want: Female readers of Virgil’s Aeneid in the Middle Ages

British Library - King's 24   f. 101v   Dido and Aeneas

Emma evidently knew Virgil’s epic, to which the text she commissioned makes explicit reference, and commissioned a Latin work modelled on it as a political tool to influence the actions of men.

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