As Kerby-Fulton tell us in Chapter 4 of OUMEM, the annotation of medieval manuscripts often reflected the social or cultural conditions of the time: “annotators were gripped by the same kinds of social, gender, and political issues as we are today.”  In Part I of the chapter, the author details some of the different styles of annotation, and what they meant to reflect. Based on those qualifications, and your own experiences with contemporary texts, what kind of “marginalia” exists in our present-day society? What are some of the different ways and reasons we interpret modern productions? How do those commentaries reflect or echo the medieval methods of annotation we encounter in the reading?

March 24th: Julian of Norwich

The term “affective piety” is defined as a religious zeal in which the worshiper meditates deeply upon the emotional and physical sufferings of holy figures. After having read both the introductory material to Julian of Norwich and A Revelation of Love, how would you describe the influence of affective piety on Julian and her outlook? What kinds of rhetorical devices help Julian achieve this level of zeal and, finally, what could you say about her purpose as a medieval writer?

March 22: Romancing the Findern

The second half of chapter two in OUMEM focuses on the Findern Manuscript. Olson points out ways in which “provincial location, social prestige, literary good taste and creative ability are central” to the Findern and how these qualities seem to create a more “modern perception of the past” (139).

In what ways is the Findern collection a different kind of romance manuscript than those we’ve studied so far this semester? What seemed particularly striking, interesting and different, and what might Olson mean when she suggests it’s a more modern perception of the past?

March 17: Romancing Sir Orfeo

In today’s reading, Olson delves into the possible themes that governed the Auchinleck’s compilatio, one of which involves the English “hero” narrative as an establishment of Anglo-Norman ancestry, owing validity to Norman authority.

In what ways would Sir Orfeo reflect a possible synthesis between different groups in the Auchinleck?

March 17: Why did English have such a large Impact?

In the second chapter of OEMUM, Romancing the Book, the author spends a lot of time discussing the probable owners of the Aucinleck manuscript. One idea that she throws into the mix of possibilities is the idea that this manuscript was meant for lower class citizens, contrary to the usual high class ownership of manscripts in the Middle Ages. One of her major reasons for this idea is the use of English in the manuscript, which was different than the usual latin or french.

What information does this give you about the English language in the Medieval Period? How did the public look at English compared to French or Latin? Talk about the benefits of English to this time period and why it may have been preferred to the public over French or Latin.

March 15: Morals, Transformation and Alternate Realms in Sir Orfeo

In Sir Orfeo there are two worlds: the real world of Sir Orfeo’s court where Herodis is originally threatened by the Faerie King and the realm of the faeries where she is taken. Orfeo is able to handle his real world conflict in the faerie world through his tact and musical skill rather than through combat.

In what ways are these two worlds similar and how are they different (is one world more “alive” than the other)? How does the introduction of an alternate realm manipulate or transform Sir Orfeo and his morals?

March 15: Sir Orfeo vs. his mythological counterpart, Orpheus

Sir Orfeo is a retelling of the classic Greek myth Orpheus.  If that story is unfamiliar to you, here is a link of a synopsis:

The similarities between the two are clear; yet our Middle English version makes some distinct changes to the classic story (particularly the ending).  What are the differences between Sir Orfeo and the classic Orpheus and what can this tell us about Medieval English culture/literature?

March 3: Sir Degrevant Part 2

Melidor’s maid tries to convince Melidor to love Sir Degrevant by listing his strengths: he is handsome, wealthy, and generous. Although Sir Degrevant sounds like a great guy to me, Melidor shuns his advances until he proves his battle prowess by winning the joust and duel against the Duke of Gerle.

What does this say about Melidor’s idea of love specifically? What does it say about the reasons to fall love in the early 15th century vs modern reasons to fall in love?