Functions of Chess in Medieval French Literature

Functions of Chess in Medieval French Literature

Edward Mills examines the functions of the game of chess in medieval French literary culture.

BOOK REVIEW: Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife by Susan Signe Morrison

Books: Grendel's Mother by Susan Signe Morrison.

Grendel’s Mother tells the story of Brimhild, a child found abandoned in a boat on the shores of Denmark. Taken in by a fisherwoman woman and her husband, she is received as a blessing for the child they recently lost. There is nothing to identify her save for a few strange, and foreign items packed […]

Conception of Knighthood and Fifteenth-Century Chivalric Manuals

Chauser_knight_from_prologue

Chivalric writings like chronicles, romances and military handbooks, either in manuscript or in print, were popular and widely read in the latter half of the 15th century.

Snorri Sturluson: Viking Mythographer and Historian

Snorri Sturluson, drawn by Christian Krohg (1899)

I shall first tell you briefly about Snorri’s background and his education and discuss his Edda, where he appears as mythographer, among other things, and then tell you about his career as a politician and discuss his Sagas of the Norwegian Kings.

Horse Power: Social Evolution in Medieval Europe

Horse depicted in British Library MS Harley 1585 f. 69v

My research is on the development of the horse as a status symbol in Western Europe during the Middle Ages.

The Lady’s Man: Gawain as Lover in Middle English Literature

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

Gawain’s reputation as a philanderer precedes him; the best known example is the comment of Bertilak’s wife in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whose disbelief that the famous and courteous Gawain could be alone with her and not crave a kiss is notorious

Of Wilderness, Forest, and Garden: An Eco-Theory of Genre in Middle English Literature

British Library : Cotton Nero A.x f. 129v

I posit that the components of the environment play a role in the deployment of the narrative by shaping the characters and influencing the action.

How Well Do You Know the Opening Lines of Medieval Literature?

Opening Lines of Medieval Literature

Test yourself by trying to pick which famous work of medieval literature these opening lines are from.

7 Things One Should Know When Dealing with Kings: The Icelander’s Version

Christian Krohg illustration in an 1890s edition of Heimskringl

Here is MaryAnn R. Adams’ winning advice on how to deal with Norse kings.

In Search of Guinevere

Queen Guinevere questioning Lancelot about his love for her

As a lifelong lover of Arthurian stories, I have always had a love/hate relationship with Guinevere. In some stories, she is the well-mannered and generous ideal queen; in others she is a jealous and spiteful adulteress. How can she be both? When did she change?

From the Middle Ages to Modernity: The Intersecting Supernatural Worlds of Melusine and Today’s Popular Culture

(Illustration to folio CXLI of L'Histoire de la Belle Mélusine published by Steinschaber in 1478 , depicting the scene of Remondin’s discovery of his wife’s animal-human hybrid form. The wall has been removed so that the reader, who knows she takes this form once a week, may see what is going on inside. Note that Mélusine is dressed as a noble lady and clearly has both human and animal body parts.)

This work contains many elements common to supernatural tales of its time-shape-shifting, magic fountains and marriages between humans and fairies – yet it is also surprisingly relevant to our own age, whose popular culture is saturated with modem myths and vampire love-stories.

The Snow Baby: A Cautionary Tale

A snow flake under the microscope - image by ZEISS Microscopy / Flickr

Most of the time, fabliaux are lighthearted and lusty, but occasionally they stray into dark humour, like ‘The Snow Baby’.

The Quirky Questions of Wynkyn de Worde

Chicken or egg? Photo by Ruben Alexander / Flickr

From the ‘chicken or egg’ question to age of a mouse, some of the riddles from England’s oldest joke book.

Celtic Mythology in the Arthurian Legend

Gundestrup cauldron

The aim of this thesis is to find out whether there are some aspects, themes or symbols of the pagan Celtic mythology that appear in the Arthurian legend and if so, what role they play there and to what extent they influence the legend.

The Mythical Ghoul in Arabic Culture

"Amine Discovered with the Goule", from the story of Sidi Nouman, of the One Thousand and One Nights.

Though the ghoul has origins as old as the Mesopotamian civilization, Arabs were largely responsible for popularizing it. Because Islam incorporated this being in its doctrine, the ghoul remained a source of fear and mystery in the Arab culture.

Monsters and the Exotic in Early Medieval England

Marvels of the East, opening, fol. 039v-040r, early twelfth century, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

The dominant literate culture of early medieval England – male, European, and Christian – often represented itself through comparison to exotic beings and monsters, in traditions developed from native mythologies, and Classical and Biblical sources.

Grief, Gender and Mourning in Medieval North Atlantic Literature

Book of Leinster, now in the library of Trinity College, Dublin

This dissertation explores the relationship between grief, cultural constructs of gender, and mourning behaviour in the literatures of medieval Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, and Iceland

John Gower’s Handwriting identified

British Library, Add. MS 59495, fol. 39v. - image from the International John Gower Society

John Gower, considered to be one of the greatest poets of medieval England, left behind several remarkable works. A scholar has now been able to identify poems that were written by his own hand, including a poignant piece about how he was going blind.

Dreams and lovers: the sympathetic guide frame in Middle English courtly love poems

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, 1896

When is a dream not a dream? The Middle English convention of the ‘dream vision’ has been read by modern scholars as a genre that primarily reveals the medieval understanding of dreaming and dream theory, so that events and stories presented within a dream frame are necessarily read through that specific hermeneutic.

Said in jest: Who’s laughing at the Middle Ages (and when)?

mphg

The essay begins with a negative image of a medieval scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which is used to point out that the scene is a knowing parody rather than founded on a genuine belief in an unmitigatedly dark age

Courtesy and Politeness in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Gawain and the Green Knight

A close reading of three selected passages of the Middle English alliterative romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight provides a detailed picture of fictional and fairy-tale manifestations of courtly and polite behaviour in Middle English, a period that imported many new terms of courtesy and politeness from French.

30 Sagas in 30 Days on Twitter

30 Sagas in 30 Days on Twitter

This month, a scholar is using Twitter to tell the stories of thirty lesser known tales written by Icelanders.

Teaching Tolkien’s Translations of Medieval Literature: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Orfeo and Pearl

Gawain and the Green Knight tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien, the medievalist who became the father of modern fantasy literature, translated many poems out of Old English, Old Norse and Middle English into carefully versified modern English

Hair and Masculinity in the Alliterative Morte Arthure

King Arthur as one of the Nine Worthies, detail from the "Christian Heroes Tapestry" dated c. 1385

This essay examines the use of forced hair cutting in the late fourteenth‐century alliterative romance, Morte Arthure, to show how it is used to develop characters that reflect the tension surrounding the English king Richard II and the tyranny that characterized the final years of his reign.

Last Laughs: Torture in Medieval Icelandic Literature

Hrafnkels saga

Medieval Icelandic literature is full of violence, calculated and reasoned violence, narrated in such a way as to focus largely on issues of personal honor and justice, less so on the spectacle of blood so common in the modem Hollywood action film.

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