This collection and the romances it investigates are crucial to our understanding of the aesthetics of medieval narrative and to the ideologies of gender and sexuality, race, religion, political formations, social class, ethics, morality and national identity with which those narratives emerge.
’ in Reassembling
the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2005). See also Lowell Duckert, ‘Speaking Stones,
John Muir, and a Slower (Non)Humanities’, in Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
(ed.), Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects (Washington,
DC: Oliphaunt Books, 2012), pp. 273–9.
4 Coole and Frost, New Materialisms, p. 6.
5 For an accessible overview of Anglo-Saxon science, see R. M. Liuzza,
‘In Measure, and Number, and Weight: Writing Science’, in Clare A.
Lees (ed.), The Cambridge History of Early Medieval
that ‘modernity’ is based on this false binary, this ontological distinction between inanimate objects and human subjects, whereas in fact
the world is full of quasi-objects and quasi-subjects.
17 Kellie Robertson, ‘Medieval Materialism: A Manifesto’, Exemplaria,
22:2 (2010), 99–118.
18 Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (ed.), Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and
Objects (Washington, DC: Oliphaunt Books, 2012). See also Jeffrey
Jerome Cohen and Julian Yates (eds), Object Oriented Environs (Earth:
Punctum Books, 2016), which explores the critical confluence between
, dynastic, intergenerational, and, perhaps, intercultural. It is a complexity that engages simultaneously multiple emotions, responses, ethics, and interpersonal dynamics. Consequently, despite the partial, unintegrated, and recursive positions at which the infant and childhood micro-narratives of Scyld and Beowulf appear in the poem, Beowulf does not claim the early years of these heroes and kings as founding traumas upon which the poem builds its world. In spite of Scyld's abandonment and ‘destitution’, a ‘comfort’ ( frof ) follows from his foundling state. Whether we
towards the touch within deconstructive discourses of ethics because, as Jean-Luc Nancy formulates it, it is ‘touching the limit’ that constitutes ‘the possibility of touch itself’.
And for this reason, the intimacy of touch and the touch of intimacy remain disruptive and risky in such discourses in ways that both echo and differ from either more general cultural critique or Serres's account of the parasite. So it is worth noting that even patristic accounts of touch, which shaped Anglo-Saxon evaluations of the
The lump-child and its parents in The King of Tars
case for distinguishing between the phases of Lacan’s thought is
eloquently made in the preface to David Macey’s Lacan in Contexts (London,
1988), pp. ix–xi. Apart from the texts cited below, I have also drawn in
my account of the lump on Lacan’s seventh seminar, translated as The Ethics
of Psychoanalysis, 1959–60: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII, ed.
Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. with notes by Dennis Porter (London, 1992).
‘[T]oute l’interrogation freudienne se résume à ceci – Qu’est-ce que c’est
qu’être un père?’, Jacques Lacan, Le Séminaire, Livre IV: La
sometimes accommodated, but it is never repressed. And it is with this in mind that I
want to return for a moment to the anxieties that exercised romance’s
early detractors: popular romance, put simply, is a dangerous recreation. Despite the gulf that inevitably separates us from these medieval
narratives, they retain the power to shock us, to unsettle our assumptions about, among other things, gender and sexuality, race, religion,
A polemical introduction 17
political formations, social class, ethics, morality and aesthetic
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and John Lydgate’s Troy Book
in fifteenth-century England [Aldershot, UK and Brookfield, VT:
Ashgate, 1998], 45) or the merely ‘topical expression of (usually false)
modesty’ (John Dagenais, The ethics of reading in manuscript culture:
glossing the Libro de Buen Amor [Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1994], 24).
2 For examinations of the humility topos and its classical tradition, see
Ernst Robert Curtius, European literature and the Latin Middle Ages,
transl. Willard R. Trask (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1990), 407–13; see also Barbara Newman, who examines its
The Orcherd of Syon, Titus and Vespasian, and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes
), 112–25, at 123.
41 Schirmer, ‘Reading lessons at Syon Abbey’, at 347.
42 Dagenais, Ethics of reading, 24.
43 For further assessment of the role of affective reading, see Sarah
McNamer, who addresses the role of affective meditation practice in
late-medieval spirituality in Affective meditation and the invention of
medieval compassion (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
2009). Jennifer Bryan counters the accepted belief that meditation
was predominantly practised by women, arguing that devotional
literature in general was not ‘the special province of