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Essays in popular romance
Editor: Nicola McDonald

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.

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emphasis on complex interactions of the political context of textual production, increasing attentions paid to critiques of wealth, power and gender definition in the twelfth century, and the origination of a new language to effect this.5 The roots of this new attention to the language which articulated queenly power, innovated in the writings of William of Malmesbury, lie in literature commissioned by royal female patrons in the specific political climate of late eleventh-century England. A key to Stafford’s approach is the importance of the female life cycle in

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm

the one hand, eating the Turk’s Head mirrors crusader fantasy: Christians consume Saracens in their conquest, real or desired, of the Holy Land. On the other hand, by literalising the rhetoric of conquest, it makes the unimaginable transgression (eating Saracens) completely imaginable. Like sex and commerce, medieval politics, in particular the politics of national expansion, is fraught with the anthropophagic urge: lords ‘etheπ’ their underlings and ‘deuouren’ the poor; knights ‘swolwe’ one another and so too do kingdoms; enemies are ‘glotons’; and victors ‘feste

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
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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, MUP_McDonald_01_Intro 16 11/18/03, 16:56 A polemical introduction 17 political formations, social class, ethics, morality and aesthetic

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
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Greeks and Saracens inGuy of Warwick

10 Romancing the East: Greeks and Saracens in Guy of Warwick Rebecca Wilcox Guy’s ties to the East For decades, literary critics such as Frederic Jameson and Stephen Knight have argued that medieval romance, for the most part, unquestioningly reflects dominant ideologies of the ruling elite.1 Far from conforming to this prescription, however, the fourteenth-century popular romance Guy of Warwick engages contemporary socio-political concerns in critical and transformative ways. Guy’s fantastic reworking of England’s past through its titular hero both recognises

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
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The wall texts of a Percy family manuscript and the Poulys Daunce of St Paul’s Cathedral

by the guiding authority of the poet’s voice, which comes to dominate in the absence of the architecture and, in the longest version of the work (the version of Lydgate’s translation considered less connected to St Paul’s), through the inclusion of verses in which the translator, Lydgate, addresses his readers. For the Percy wall texts, the sanitized landing sites of the manuscript that situates the wall texts among other works invites readers to understand the political, social, and moral authority enjoyed by the Percy family. The collection of other texts in the

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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The Orcherd of Syon, Titus and Vespasian, and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes

on the events he relates transform them from exemplifications of sinfulness and Theban deceit into passages that provide Lydgate with the occasion for diverting from the narrative of Theban events in order to explore political strengths and weaknesses. These moralizing moments also provide the opportunity for Lydgate to comment on the organization of history. One of the conventional medieval views of history focused on its cyclicality, which operates to repeat, but also to emphasize the linear sequence of events (this happens, then this happens; a man grows in

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England