“Maps out new territory that offers an in-depth investigation of a crucial aspect of medieval literature. The notion of ‘the other within’ promises (and delivers) insight into what differentiates as well as brings together past and present concerns.”—Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner, author of Chrétien Continued: A Study of the “Conte du Graal” and Its Verse Continuations
“Some of the most renowned medieval French scholars in the world present fresh and engaging research on the shifting nature of identity from the perspective of authors, characters, and audiences.”—Logan E. Whalen, editor of A Companion to Marie de France
Shaping Identity in Medieval French Literature: The Other Within considers the multiplicity and instability of medieval French literary identity, arguing that it is fluid and represented in numerous ways. The works analyzed span genres—epic, romance, lyric poetry, hagiography, fabliaux—and historical periods from the twelfth century to the late Middle Ages.
Contributors examine the complexity of the notion of self through a wide range of lenses, from marginal characters to gender to questions of voice and naming. Studying a variety of texts—including Conte du Graal, Roman de la Rose, Huon de Bordeaux, and the Oxford Roland—they conceptualize the Other Within as an individual who simultaneously exists within a group while remaining foreign to it. They explore the complex interactions between and among individuals and groups, and demonstrate how identity can be imposed and self-imposed not only by characters but by authors and audiences.
Taken together, these essays highlight the fluidity and complexity of identity in medieval French texts, and underscore both the richness of the literature and its engagement with questions that are at once more and less modern than they initially appear.
Adrian P. Tudor is senior lecturer in French at the University of Hull. He has authored and coedited numerous books, including Grant Risee? The Medieval Comic Presence. Kristin L. Burr is professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Saint Joseph’s University. She is coeditor of The Old French Fabliaux: Essays on Comedy and Context.