Department of French

Modern & Medieval Languages

Department of French


A seminar series ran throughout the project, and a conference was held at its half-way point.

The seminars organised by the project took place in the context of the Medieval European Research Seminar at Manchester and the Cambridge Medieval French Seminar. The senior researchers and research associates also gave seminar papers at various venues throughout the duration of the project.

Seminar speakers

  • February 2009, Manchester
    Ardis Butterfield, University College London: 'The construction of textual form: cross-lingual citation in the medieval lyric'

    As various recent studies have shown, citation is a widespread creative as well as intellectual practice in the medieval period. Yet there is still much thinking to do about the implications of this practice for our understanding of textual form. This paper asks questions about the notion of form in medieval short verse. It does so by bringing together two aspects of lyric in England: its textual migrations through translation, citation and diglossic compositional habits across English, French and Latin and its open, seemingly unfixed formal structures. Tracing the mobility of a core group of verse lines across languages (Latin, French and English), manuscripts (insular English and Flemish) and contexts (genealogy, sermons, lullaby) reveals the memorial value attached to such lines which gives them multiple textual lives. It gives us an insight into the transferability of vernacular verses across French and English, as well as their relationships with Latin; more than this, we begin to understand how clerical culture was saturated with such textual clusters, and how widely it functioned through multilingual citation of this kind.

  • 15 December 2008, Manchester
    Virginie Minet-Mahy/ Marie Jennequin, Université Catholique de Louvain: 'Voix de Sapience: la Vierge et "l'oeuvre totale" chez Alain Chartier et Jean Molinet'.

  • 16 October 2008, Cambridge
    Bernard Ribémont, Université d'Orléans: 'Quand la littérature monte au ciel: cosmologie/cosmogonie et écriture fictionnelle en langue d'oïl'.

  • 12 May 2008, Manchester
    Michèle Gally, ENS, Lyon: 'Amour et savoir(s). Du Roman de la Rose de Jean de Meun au Livre des Echecs amoureux moralisés d'Evrart de Conty'.

  • March 2008, Cambridge
    Dr Sophie Marnette, University of Oxford: 'Quoting her: Female Expression in Medieval French Literature'.

  • 10 December 2007, Manchester
    Mr Philip E. Bennett, University of Edinburgh: 'Rhetoric, Poetics and History: Machaut's Prise d'Alixandre and the anonymous Geste des ducs de Bourgogne'

    Both texts considered here may be classed as chivalric biography, despite one of them, the early fifteenth-century Geste des ducs de Bourgogne taking very self-consciously the form of a chanson de geste, and extending its wilful archaism not only to the assiduous and almost mechanical use of epic formulae but also to a recreation of Old French diction and Picard dialect, which is mostly successful. This archaism and provincialism is unknown to the prose chronicle, Le Livre des trahisons de la France envers la maison de Bourgogne, which draws its material for the years 1396-1411 from the Geste. It therefore seems likely that the linguistic and formal peculiarities of the Geste form part of a rhetorical ploy to recreate Jean sans Peur as an epic hero defending the King of France against a lineage of traitors represented by Louis and Charles d'Orléans and Philippe de Mézières. Despite its title, which may be attributable to Machaut, La Prise d'Alixandre is a complete biography of Pierre I de Lusignan, King of Cyprus, written in the continuous octosyllabic couplets of verse romance and chronicle. Both works begin with an allegorical prologue, but whereas that of the Geste is used to predict the course of the narrative culminating in the victory of the Burgundian party at Saint-Cloud in 1411, that of La Prise concentrates on the efforts of classical deities under the supervision of the Christian God to create a perfect man to renew the work of Godefroi de Bouillon and liberate the Holy Places. This allows the whole work to be read as a tragedy with a declining trajectory to the assassination of Pierre, which can be understood either as impious regicide or divinely sanctioned tyrannicide.

  • 11 October 2007, Cambridge
    Karin Becker, University of Stuttgart: 'Eustache Deschamps entre écriture poétique et littérature pragmatique'

    Eustache Deschamps, officier royal et poète de cour qui vècut de 1340 à 1404 environ, a laissé à la postérité une immense production poétique qui comprend, dans quelques 1500 poèmes, une multitude de discours différents et une étonnante diversité de sujets. Deschamps cherche à intégrer dans les genres à forme fixe, hérités de la tradition courtoise (ballade, chant royal, rondeau, virelai), une large gamme de thèmes puisés dans la littérature et la réalité historique de son époque. Cette ouverture programmatique lui permet par exemple de discuter les questions traitées dans les écrits sur les arts mécaniques : dans ses poèmes domestiques, médicaux, culinaires, etc., il cherche à harmoniser sa vocation encyclopédique et sa volonté didactique avec la tradition du lyrisme courtois. Grâce à plusieurs stratégies rhétoriques et stylistiques, Deschamps réussit à intégrer ces sujets « pragmatiques » dans les genres lyriques, en adaptant l'enseignement pratique et l'explication discursive au cadre rigide des ballades, rondeaux, etc., avec leur structure définie, leur mètre et leur rime, leurs strophes et leurs refrains. C'est justement la difficulté technique de cette transformation qui constitue le moteur principal de son écriture. Parmi les moyens de cette métamorphose, il faut notamment compter l'art de l'énumération, l'argumentation moralisante et la mise en scène du moi lyrique.

  • 14 May 2007, Manchester
    David Cowling, University of Durham: 'Metaphor and knowledge in late medieval French texts'.

    Far from being a simple poetic 'ornament', metaphor in late medieval French texts performed the essential function of providing a structure for the presentation of encyclopaedic knowledge and, indeed, for the perception of cultural and historical phenomena. This paper will start by assessing the role of metaphor as a heuristic and interpretative device in everyday discourse and will move on to consider its concrete use in a range of texts associated with the so-called rhétoriqueur writers, who used it both as a source of literary structure and as a tool for the analytical presentation of knowledge. Consideration will also be given to the importance of metaphor as a constituent element of the 'audience design' of encyclopaedic texts.

  • 25 January 2007, Cambridge
    Prof. Jelle Koopmans, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands: 'L'espace de la farce: savoirs livresques et savoirs visuels'.

  • 12 October 2006, Cambridge
    Dr Emma Cayley, University of Exeter: '"Le chaperon toujours dure": the language of ageing desire in the Débat de la damoiselle et de la bourgouise and Débat du viel et du jeune'.
  • 15 May 2006, Manchester
    Prof. Jean-Claude Mühlethaler, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland: 'La "translation" de l'Énéide par Octovien de Saint-Gelais: un discours de gloire à l'usage du roi de France?'
  • 9 March 2006, Cambridge
    Prof. Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet, Université de Paris-IV, France: 'Poésie et savoir chez Christine de Pizan'.

  • 15 December 2005, Manchester
    Prof. Dennis Hüe, Université de Rennes-2, France: 'La terre et la Mère: Marie au Puy de Rouen'.

  • 13 October 2005, Cambridge
    Dr Helen Swift, St Hilda's College, Oxford: '"Pourquoy appellerions nous ces choses differentes, qu'une heure, un moment, un mouvement peuvent rendre du tout semblables?" Representing Women's Identity in the Late-Medieval Querelle des femmes'.

  • 5 May 2005, Cambridge
    Dr Stephanie Kamath, University of Boston, Massachusetts, USA (as Ms Stephanie Gibbs, University of Pennsylvania, USA): 'Allegories of Authorship in the Roman de la Rose and Deguilleville's Pèlerinage de la vie humaine'.

Conference/seminar papers by team members

  • July 2009, University of Oxford, Society for French Studies Annual Conference. Session on 'Imagining History'.
    Finn Sinclair: 'Myth and Historical Memory: Le Roman de Mélusine'.

  • May 2009, Ohio State University, USA
    Sarah Kay: 'Make war not love: internationalism, nationalism and localism in arts of poetry', seminar paper.
  • 17-18 April 2009, University of Virginia. 'Towards a Theory of Creative Collaboration'
    Adrian Armstrong: 'Sympoiesis, Rewriting, Materiality: Pre-Modern Cultural Collaboration in Theory and Practice'.

    This paper considers the challenges inherent in adopting a broad and inclusive approach to creative collaboration. The cultural conditions of pre-modern artistic production, and the practicalities of research in the field, oblige scholars to question assumptions based on unreflective notions not only of authorship, but also of patronage and transmission. To avoid pre-judging these issues, it makes methodological sense to define collaboration as widely as possible; however, any such definition risks appearing too vague when confronted with the very diverse co-productions manifested in medieval and Renaissance culture. A provisional global definition is suggested, and a set of distinctions considered through which various kinds of collaboration might be meaningfully differentiated. Particular reflection is devoted to the interactivity generated by material conditions, e.g. of book production or performance. Further considerations are derived from two existing conceptual frameworks: rewriting and sympoiesis, from translation theory and design theory respectively. Examples range across the composition and transmission of late medieval French poetry: from the concours de Blois to the compilation of mystery plays, from scribal editing to publishing partnerships.

    Sarah Kay: 'Hierarchy and Collaboration: re-creating value in the European lyric'.

  • April 2009, Johns Hopkins University, USA
    Adrian Armstrong: 'Competition, Collaboration and Complexity in Late Medieval French Poetry', seminar paper.

  • April 2009, CUNY, New York, USA
    Sarah Kay: 'Verse encyclopedias and encyclopedic verse: system and system-failure', seminar paper.

  • April 2009, University of Oxford, Medieval French Research Seminar
    Finn Sinclair: 'History, Myth and Invention in Late Medieval French Texts'.
  • March 2009, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
    Sylvia Huot: 'The Myth of Narcissus and the Discourse of Reason in the Roman de la Rose', lecture presented to a graduate seminar on the Rose.

  • March 2009, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
    Sylvia Huot: 'The Myth of Orpheus in the Roman de la Rose', public lecture.

  • 29-30 January 2009, Exeter University. 'Citation, Intertextuality, Memory in the Middle Ages: Text, Music, Image'
    Sarah Kay: 'What is a quotation in the Leys d'amors?'

    All the Occitan manuals of grammar, rhetoric and poetics (apart from the Donatz proensals of Uc Faidit) incorporate quotations from the troubadours within a framework broadly inherited from the Latin school handbooks of Donatus and Priscien. The earlier of the two versions of Leys d'amors (1341?) written by Guilhem Molinier for the Consistori del gay saber at Toulouse remains attached to this tradition, containing a scattering of quotations from well-known troubadours antics among the many verse examples confected by Molinier himself. The second prose redaction (1356) is, however, differently conceived. It suppresses the treatment of rhetorical figures from the first redaction and substitutes a new opening book based on the writings of Albertano of Brescia and Brunetto Latini. Rhetoric is no longer seen as a catalogue of devices but viewed, within an overall encyclopaedic framework, as a civic tool, a mechanism of government, and ultimately a means of judgement. In this second redaction the excerpts from troubadour songs are almost all dispensed with, except for liberal doses of the works of Guilhem's chief luminary, At de Mons. By contrast, the texts of Albertano and Brunetto are reproduced wholesale, being variously quoted, cited, or silently copied; many of their quotations - Albertano in particular is a great compiler of classical auctoritates - become part of Molinier's text. In thus quoting (?) his sources, Molinier not only translates them into Occitan, but sometimes also recasts them in verse; some of these verse adaptations are then assigned to a figure Molinier refers to 'l'Actor', in a way that seems to redefine their status as 'quotations'. This paper will focus on the status of quotation in the second redaction. Drawing especially on Derrida's writings on iterability (see especially 'Signature événement contexte') it will inquire into the relationship between quoting, compiling, borrowing, and translating, and examine what kinds of 'mark' or 'remark' come to signal quotation now that the days of the troubadours antics are finally over.

  • 27-30 December 2008, MLA Conference, San Francisco
    Sarah Kay: 'Quotations from the troubadours in Dante's De vulgare eloquentia'.

  • 5 December 2008, University of Antwerp, Netherlands. Conference 'Voices in the text: the use of polyphony and the transmission of knowledge in medieval texts'
    Sylvia Huot: 'Marguerite Porete and the Roman de la Rose'

    This paper examines Porete's use of allegorical personifications and the portrayal of what she calls 'Fine Amour', with reference to the most famous example of love allegory in the French language, the Roman de la Rose. Although the Rose is not an explicit presence in Porete's Mirouer des simples ames, it is part of the literary culture that helped shape Porete's singular treatise. The paper focuses on Porete's treatment of the conflict between Love and Reason; the way that she configures the position of the Annihilated Soul as a female lover and love object; and the way that the allegorical dialogue seems to stage an oral reading, interrogation, and discussion of the mystical love doctrine at the core of the text.

  • 4 December 2008, Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale. Conference 'Les Translations d'Ovide au Moyen Age'
    Sylvia Huot: 'The Ovide moralisé and the Roman de la Rose'.

    In his glosses on the myths associated with the House of Cadmus in Metamorphoses 3 and 5, the Ovide moralisé poet exploits the recurring motif of the fountain as a site of knowledge that can be either traumatic or salvific. The perilous fountains encountered by Cadmus, Acteon, and Narcissus contrast with that of the Muses, a site of intellectual and spiritual enlightenment. This paper argues that the OM poet's treatment of the fountains and gardens that feature in the adventures of Cadmus, Acteon, Narcissus, Perseus, and Bellerophon is influenced by the Roman de la Rose, with its movement from the perilous fountain of Narcissus in the garden of Delight, to the Trinitarian fountain of Genius's Heavenly Park. The allegorical glosses of the OM allow this sequence of tales to offer a more orthodox recasting of Genius's construct.

  • 14-15 November 2008, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
    Sarah Kay: 'Quotations that grow on trees. Paradoxes of the graft in the Breviari d'amor'.

    A revised version of the paper given in Bordeaux in September 2008.

  • 14 October 2008, Yale University, New Haven, CT
    Sarah Kay: ''Parrots and Nightingales. Lyric quotation, lyric insertion, and the development of the European lyric'.

    A revised version of the lecture given in London in May 2008.

  • October 2008, Yale University, USA
    Sarah Kay: ''Parrots and Nightingales. Lyric quotation, lyric insertion, and the development of the European lyric', seminar paper.

  • 26-27 September 2008, Bordeaux. 'L'arbre au moyen âge'
    Sarah Kay: 'L'arbre et la greffe dans le Breviari d'amor de Matfre Ermengaud. Temps du savoir et temps de l'amour'.

    The image of the grafted tree entails a temporal paradox whereby the graft is both prior to, and subsequent to, the stock. This paradox is especially visible in the case of quotations which are often grafts from old and venerable texts added to texts that are much younger. This paper follows this paradoxical 'logic of the graft' through three aspects of the Breviari: the principal structuring device of the whole encyclopaedia, the albre d'amor; the tree of knowledge of good and evil that dominates a part of it; and one of the inset quotations which, it is argued, makes sense if it is interpreted as referring to the practice of grafting.

  • 20-21 September 2008, Sensu University, Tokyo, Japan. Conference 'The Roman de la Rose and Chaucer'
    Sylvia Huot: 'Senshu University MSS 2 and 3 and the Roman de la Rose Manuscript Tradition' and 'Poetry, Knowledge, and Desire in Guillaume de Lorris's Roman de la Rose'.

  • 10-12 July 2008 King's College, Cambridge. Conference 'The Medieval Schoolroom and the Literary Arts. Grammar and its Institutions, King's College'
    Sarah Kay: 'Occitan Grammar as a Science of Endings'.

    The Occitan grammars concentrate on flexion, especially nominal flexion. Why? This paper suggests various reasons. Occitan grammars were intended for native speakers of Italian and Catalan, which no longer had nominal flexions. Their authors' observations about flexion imply some knowledge of speculative grammar and dialectic, which suggest that it is through correct handling of the category of substance that poetry is rendered meaningful. Occitan grammarians also think of correct flexion as a way of achieving correct rhyme, i.e. they identify substance with poetry with rhyme. The way words are listed, especially in the Donatz proensals of Uc Faidit, may suggest that these grammars were intended less to enable their readers to compose poetry than to assess the correctness of rhyme, and maybe to compose contrafacta. They may even have been used to assist the editors of scriptoria in selecting and verifying texts for copying.

  • 6-7 June 2008, King's College, London. Conference 'La Diaspora occitane'
    Sarah Kay: 'L'amour des commencements. Les citations d'incipits et la diaspora occitane'.

    A study of quotations of troubadour incipits in Occitan grammars and in other lyric poems, especially those of Jofre de Foixà.

  • 20 May 2008, School of Advanced Study, University of London
    Sarah Kay: 'Parrots and Nightingales. The History of the European Lyric'.

    A lecture based on the draft Introduction of the projected monograph, illustrated with the example of Petrarch's 'Lasso me' (Rime LXX).

  • May 2008, Medieval French Research Seminar, University of Cambridge
    Finn Sinclair: 'Artifice and Authority in the Late Medieval Mélusine'.

  • 13 February 2008, School of Advanced Study, University of London
    Sarah Kay: 'How Long is a Quotation? Quotations in the texts and manuscripts of the Breviari d'amor'

    A revised version of the lecture given at Columbia in the previous November. Material from Jofre de Foixà is excised and instead there is more analysis of the manuscripts and an extended discussion of the relation between quotation, direct speech, reported speech, and free indirect discourse, which advances the view that medieval quotation is most akin to free indirect discourse.

  • 13 November 2007, Columbia Medieval Seminar, Columbia, NY, USA
    Sarah Kay: 'How Long is a Quotation?'

    The dimensions of the quoted text and the location of the various subjects - the one who quotes and the one who is quoted - are often unclear in medieval texts. The examples used are troubadour quotations in the Breviari d'amor and in the so-called chanson glosée of Jofre de Foixà. The talk was illustrated by images showing how quotations (in the Breviari) are muchless clearly delimited from the surrounding text than lyric insertion (in the Violette or Fauvel).

  • 27-28 September 2007, Michigan Medieval Seminar, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
    Sarah Kay: 'Truth in Poetry and the Subject Supposed to Know'.

    A revised and expanded version of the paper given in July 2007 at the French Studies Conference.

  • 19-22 September 2007, Fribourg, Switzerland. Conference 'Lesevorgänge: Prozesse des Erkennens in mittelalterlichen Texten, Bildern und Handschriften'
    Sylvia Huot: 'Selective Reading and the Study of Vernacular Literature in the Fourteenth Century: The Example of the Roman de la Rose'.

    My paper focused on clerical readers who subjected the Rose to thematic and intertextual study, as evidenced in marginal glosses, Tables of Rubrics, and in one instance, an elaborate thematic index created by a fourteenth-century reader. Such tools might have aided court clerics in reading the Rose aloud to a lay audience and orally commenting on its satirical or philosophical content, and on its relationship to Latin sources; they might also have been designed to enhance private reading and study of the Rose as a vernacular compendium, leading its readers on a 'tour' of well-known Latin authors that was intellectually provocative, frequently hilarious, and - at least for some - morally edifying. Glosses and Tables allow us to follow the associative leaps of medieval readers as they noted links between different passages, picking out pithy maxims and tracing thematic lines throughout the poem.

  • 29 July-4 August 2007, University of Lausanne and University of Geneva, Switzerland. XIIth International Convention of the ICLS: 'Courtly Mythologies'.
    Rebecca Dixon: 'Mythologies de la cour chez Michault Taillevent'.

    In 1431 the Burgundian court poet Michault Taillevent wrote the allegorical dream-poem, the Songe de la Thoison d'Or, to commemorate the founding of Philip the Good's proto-chivalric Order of the Golden Fleece. One spring day, a first-person narrator finds himself transported in a dream to a beautiful landscape where he happens upon a glorious jewel-encrusted palace, the venue for a sumptuous feast presided over by Bonne Renommee. The allegorical hostess welcomes to her table four heroes of yesteryear - Alexander, Gideon, Charlemagne, Arthur -, watched by a group of thirty-one noblemen who wish to accede to the table in the manner of the heroic quartet, but who cannot do so as their wings lack the required dose of power. The appropriate charge is injected into the wings, however, when the noblemen don the cloak and collar of the chivalric order they decide to found (the Ordre de la Thoison d'Or invoked in the poem's title); steeped now in glory, they float effortlessly to Bonne Renommee's table. The narrator wakes, and writes a verse account of what he has witnessed. This paper seeks to establish how a set of ideological precepts, underpinning a distinctively Burgundian sense of collective courtly identity, was both conveyed and shaped by vernacular poetry. My study complements existing research into the propagation of ideology in later Burgundian poetry by scholars such as Adrian Armstrong, Estelle Doudet, and Claude Thiry, by addressing the work of an important and under-studied earlier poet; as such, it has implications for research into Burgundian ideology and literary culture more broadly. Moreover, it furthers the work on poetry, epistemology, and ideology undertaken by the research team on the AHRC-funded project 'Poetic Knowledge in Late Medieval France'. My study will involve, firstly, close analysis of the narrative schema of the allegorical dream, considering both its intertextual resonances and the kinds of knowledge it reveals; and secondly, an examination of the poet's use of a mythologized historical past. I shall demonstrate that these techniques allow Taillevent's poem to produce the same effect as he claims to be achieved by the Ordre. Just as the mantle and collar permit Philip and his companions to reach Bonne Renommee's table, so the cloak of allegorical poetry raises them to the same ontological level as the classical, Biblical and early medieval heroes that Taillevent adduces.


    Finn Sinclair, 'The Power of the Text: Myth, History and the Roman de Melusine'

    This paper examined the connections between myth, history, power, and text in terms of the way in which myth and history can be reshaped and reinvented through the power of the written word. The text can become a powerful means both of reformulating received knowledge and of creating a new body of knowledge to be in its turn transmitted to a reading public. In the context of the creation of a new 'mythistory', the text becomes performative, acting out its own version of events and promoting a new way of reading past 'histories'. A text which encapsulates the dialogue between the historical and the literary, and which presents its own courtly mythology, is the French Roman de Melusine, which exists in a late fourteenth-century prose version by Jean d'Arras and an early fifteenth-century verse text by Coudrette. Both were written as a 'history' for different members of the Lusignan family in order to enhance its prestige and to reinforce its territorial claims in the later medieval period. Whereas Jean d'Arras is at pains to assert the truth of his tale, allying it with the historical rather than the literary, Coudrette distances himself from the notion of historical chronicle, emphasising his role as a creative poet. Both texts act out their own version of events, the voice of the author being empowered by his status as the creator and shaper of a particular kind of knowledge: historical or poetic. The two versions of the romance are thus in dialogue with each other; the mythistory which they each present has a different relationship to power, both the genealogical and political power of the patron, and the creative power of the author.

  • 13-16 July 2007, University of Durham. Durham CMRS Conference on 'Power'
    Rebecca Dixon: 'Constructing Destruction: Knowledge, Power, and the Sack of Liège (1468)'

    The later-medieval genre of occasional writing offers a privileged way into exploring the ways in which knowledge is constructed as an effect of power relations. Intricately, and often inextricably, bound up in this literary form are types of knowledge - whether referential, ideological, or textual - pertinent to the event being narrated. This paper examined the shaping of such forms of knowledge in the corpus of occasional poems written in response to the Sack of Liège by the Burgundian duke Charles the Bold in October 1468. The majority of this material is the product of the Burgundian side of an unequal power relationship; but a comparison of the two parties' literary reaction to events invites reflection on the ways in which the formal aspects of poetry (for example versification, homophony, prosopopoeia) might be linked here to the construction of knowledge and to the concomitant articulation of these vexed power relations. The study addressed the extent to which such formal features speak particularly to the shaping of knowledge through having an ideological charge specific to the historical, and also literary, circumstance of their production. The different sides use the same features in the service of very different forms of ideological knowledge: for instance, the deployment of other beleaguered urban centres (Troy, Constantinople, Ghent, Dinant ...) as exempla bears a socio-political valency for the Burgundian faction quite other than the one it has for the opposing party. These contrasting uses of knowledge construction in the narration of power imbalances raise the broader question of the means by which (occasional) poetry as a genre might be seen to express, in ways distinct from other artistic forms, the close and challenging relationship between power and epistemology.


    Finn Sinclair: 'Knowledge, Truth, and History in the Roman de Melusine

    This paper examined the connections between power and knowledge in terms of their reciprocal relationship: how power may be used to shape and construct knowledge, and how the creation and dissemination of knowledge may inform and reinforce structures of power. The power in question here is social and political, but also authorial, as the written text may be used both as a means of reformulating received knowledge and of creating a new body of knowledge to be in its turn transmitted to a reading public. A text which encapsulates the dialogue between the historical and the literary, between chronical and romance, and between prose and poetry, together with all the various forms of knowledge which this entails, is the French Roman de Melusine, which exists in a late fourteenth-century prose version by Jean d'Arras and an early fifteenth-century verse text by Coudrette. Both were written as a 'history' for different members of the Lusignan family in order to enhance its prestige and to reinforce its territorial claims in the later medieval period. Whereas Jean d'Arras is at pains to assert the truth of his tale, allying it with the historical rather than the literary, Coudrette distances himself from the notion of historical chronicle, emphasising his role as a creative poet. The two versions of the romance thus dialogue with each other; the knowledge which they each transmit has a different relationship to power, both the genealogical and political power of the patron, and the creative power of the author.

  • 2-4 July 2007, University of Birmingham. French Studies 48th Annual Conference
    Sarah Kay: 'Truth in Poetry and the Subject Supposed to Know'.

    Starting out from a conversation between Badiou and Lacan, this paper uses the Lacanian concept of the subject supposed to know to as a way of theorising what is at stake in the practice of quotation. The examples used are from Matfre Ermengaud's Breviari d'amor.


    Finn Sinclair: 'Froissart and the Re-remembering of Memory'.

    This paper focused on Froissart's Prison amoureuse, a dit amoureux composed late 1372 or early 1373, and on the Voyage en Béarn, which features in Book 3 of his Chroniques. In both his poetic dits and his chronicles, remembering and re-remembering form an essential part of Froissart's recording of memory and experience. A major factor in the connection between Froissart's poetic and his more historically-oriented writings is the vital link between the author and his work: Froissart's poetic dits feature the author as narrator and lover-protagonist in tales that weave the pseudo-autobiographical with the 'received wisdom'of poetic composition and form, while Book 3 of his Chroniques sees an increasing resonance of his presence as author and as protagonist within the frame of his journeyings. Author and text appear mutually interactive, as Froissart the author writes himself into his text, and portrays this textual persona as itself preoccupied with composition, writing and recording, to the extent that the text often falls into a mise-en-abyme of its own composition. Froissart's authorial presence is interlinked with his preoccupation with memory, memorialisation, and the written text as legacy. The memory that permeates Froissart's written texts is his own personal memory, the memory of the 'je' of the text, whether this is mediated through allegorical dream and poetic invention, or through the narratorial voice of the Froissart that journeys through his chronicles. But this personal, individual memory functions as an integral aspect of the memory of the 'textual community', created and perpetuated through the shared knowledge of texts, their diffusion, writing and rewriting. Froissart played a pivotal role within the textualisation of literary culture, in the sense of drawing on, reshaping, and adding to the body of knowledge represented by text and writing. As counterpoint to this idea of textual fluidity and evolution, Froissart was highly aware of the memorial function of the written text, and the importance of the manuscript or book as object. The Prison amoureuse and the Voyage en Béarn are both concerned with the importance of composition, with textual authority, and with the dissemination and preservation of the written word. In different ways, they are also both concerned with remembering, memorialising and omission, and illustrate the importance of these themes across Froissart's work.

  • 10-12 May 2007, Université catholique de Louvain/Fondation Universitaire (Brussels), Belgium. Conference 'Le Livre où je mets toutes mes choses: Le Recueil à la fin du Moyen Age'
    Adrian Armstrong: 'Le recueil piste d'escrime: la France, la Bourgogne et la concurrence poétique'.

    Les poètes francophones à la fin du Moyen Âge se répondent souvent l'un à l'autre, en produisant des oeuvres qui se veulent la continuation, la contrepartie, voire la réfutation d'un poème préexistant. De cette activité à la fois collaboratrice et compétitive, présentée comme telle dans de nombreux recueils manuscrits et imprimés, il résulte une surenchère de virtuosité formelle. La poésie constitue ainsi l'objet d'un savoir, savoir que l'on peut acquérir, partager et exploiter. L'enjeu de ce savoir est tout à fait particulier lorsque les poètes en concurrence affichent des attitudes politiques contrastantes. Ainsi, nous nous proposons d'examiner des joutes poétiques entre poètes bourguignons et poètes français, combats où l'idéologique se double de l'esthétique. Notre analyse porte sur des recueils tant manuscrits qu'imprimés où sont conservés des poèmes politiques de différents "grands rhétoriqueurs", dont George Chastelain et Jean Molinet du côté bourguignon, Jean Robertet et Guillaume Cretin du côté français.

  • 21 March 2007, University of Pennsylvania, USA
    Sarah Kay: 'Melancholy and Consolation in the medieval French dit', seminar paper.

    This paper explores the treatment of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy in French dits, in particular Machaut's Remede de Fortune and Confort d'ami. A revised version was subsequently published as 'Touching Singularity. Melancholy and Consolation in the French dits' (see Publications).

  • 1 February 2007, New York University, USA
    Sarah Kay: 'Allegory and Melancholy in Julia Kristeva and Christine de Pizan'.

    This lecture starts off from the importance of what I see as the core narrative of Christine's self-presentation, whereby 'the man died and the woman became a writer'. It is adduced repeatedly in her autobiographical remarks in the Chemin de long estude, the Cité des dames and the Advision Cristine, and allegorized in the Mutation de Fortune. It also characterizes a group of exempla in Book II of the Cité des dames that introduce the first inhabitants into the City. The aim of the lecture is to assess this narrative from the perspective of feminist theory. Beginning with the exemplum of Argia (Cité des dames II, xvii) I briefly examine it in relation to Irigaray's account of sexual difference and the sublimation of the death drive. Turning from the death drive to death as such, and the mourning and melancholia that result from it, I then read the example of Artemesia (Cité des dames I, xxi & II, xvi) as illustrative of Freud's famous distinction. This leads to an extended analysis of Christine's use of allegory in relation to Kristeva's account of melancholy as a 'hypersign' and as a response to the loss not of the object but of the Thing, an analysis grounded in Le Chemin de long estude. The lecture concludes by suggesting that, as the first in date of the four major works addressed, Le Chemin de long estude is the most Kristevan and most melancholic; the later works are more tightly structured and more optimistic, the conviction in them stronger that her writings are expressions of mourning and not just of melancholia.

  • January 2007, Université de Paris-IV, France
    Sarah Kay: 'Poésie, vérité, et le sujet supposé savoir', seminar paper.

  • May 2006, International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, USA
    Finn Sinclair: 'Froissart in Love: Poetic Creation in L'Espinette amoureuse and Le Joli Buisson de Jonece'.

  • April 2006, Harvard University, USA
    Sarah Kay: 'Touching Singularity. Melancholy and Consolation in the medieval French dit', seminar paper.

  • June 2005,Université Jean Moulin Lyon-III, France. Conference 'Les oiseaux de la réalité à l'imaginaire'
    Adrian Armstrong: 'Réception et interférence: le rébus ornithologique de Jean Molinet'.

  • May 2005, Université de Lille-III, France
    Adrian Armstrong: 'Savoirs en mouvement autour de Jean Molinet: Un rhétoriqueur bourguignon et sa réception manuscrite', seminar paper.

  • May 2005, Cambridge
    Miranda Griffin: 'Christine de Pizan's Poetic Knowledge: Le Chemin de longue étude', seminar paper.

  • May 2005, Manchester
    Sarah Kay: 'Poetic Knowledge: Verse, prose and image in the Breviari d'amor', seminar paper.

  • May 2005, Manchester
    Francesca Nicholson: 'The Purposes of Citation in the Breviari by Matfre Ermengaud', seminar paper.

  • April 2005, Columbia University, New York
    Sarah Kay: 'Poetry as Authority. Lyric Insertion in the Occitan tradition', lecture.

  • March 2005, Cambridge
    Adrian Armstrong: 'Dreams, Visions, and Knowledge in Molinet and Lemaire de Belges', seminar paper.

  • March 2005, Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literatures Annual Open Lecture, Mansfield College, Oxford
    Sarah Kay: 'The Place of Thought in Late Medieval Dicactic Literature: The Case of Christine de Pizan'.

  • February 2005, University of Exeter
    Adrian Armstrong: 'The Manuscript Reception of Jean Molinet's Trosne d'Honneur', seminar paper.