TitleSeasons of the Mind: Weather and Interiority in Literature
Date/TimeThursday 8 July 2021: 16.30-18.00
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairAndrew M. Richmond, Department of English, Southern Connecticut State University
Paper 1812-a When the Rhône Boils: Literary Uses of Hot Summer Weather in Sidonius Apollinaris's Epistula 2.2 and the Vita Apollinari
(Language: English)
Richard Rush, Department of History, University of California, Riverside
Index Terms: Daily Life; Geography and Settlement Studies; Language and Literature - Latin; Rhetoric
Paper 1812-b Love Poetry in a Cold Climate: Seasonal Descriptions in the Poetry of William Dunbar and Gavin Douglas
(Language: English)
Laurie Atkinson, Department of English Studies, Durham University
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Language and Literature - Middle English; Rhetoric
Paper 1812-c Charles d'Orléans's Haunted Mays
(Language: English)
Holly Barbaccia, Department of English, Georgetown College, Kentucky
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Language and Literature - French or Occitan; Language and Literature - Middle English
AbstractPaper -a:
This paper will argue that Sidonius Apollinaris's and the Vita Apollinari's descriptions of summer heat are rooted in the authors' lived experiences of summertime along the Rhone, but, due to the authors' rhetorical exaggerations, care must be taken in using these descriptions as climatic observations. When Sidonius wanted to persuade a friend to visit his villa, Sidonius described the Rhone as boiling and the lake by his villa as a cool retreat. In the Vita Apollinari, on the other hand, the water of the Rhone was so hot that no one could drink from it and Apollinaris performed a miracle by finding a well of cool water.

Paper -b:
From de Lorris's 'tens amoreus' to Chaucer's 'joly tyme of May', the seasonal description is an almost ubiquitous feature of late medieval amatory narrative verse. The favourite season is May - the month of dalliance and courtship - but does its significance change in poetry composed in colder climes? This paper examines the seasonal descriptions of the late medieval Scottish poets William Dunbar and Gavin Douglas. For each, the salubrious Spring morning seems an unattainable ideal. However, rather than abandoning the topos, they utilise its inconsistencies within meditations on their art: the extent to which transnational literary traditions can express local and/or personal concerns.

Paper -c:
Long before emotional landscapes puzzled Björk, medieval poets turned to environmental metaphors to express erotic states of emergency. For the late medieval multilingual poet Charles d'Orléans, seasons signal the protagonist's psychological trajectories from love to loss to love's renewal. In particular, the eighteen French and English May poems express both the theme of 'unseasonable feelings' (or 'feeling unseasonable') and literary immortality.

His lyric speakers never fit emotionally into the Maytime settings. The early French poems use Maying and the Flower-and-Leaf game to assert Charles's choice of elegiac poetry over springtime play. His beloved's ghost visits him in May, and his Middle English adaptation brings her name aurally into the new linguistic setting through the simile of a resounding 'belle', freezing her there. The post-captivity French May poems in turn juxtapose the aging speaker's personal season (winter) with the external one. A study of the eighteen poems in chronological order shows how consistently Charles situates internal or personal 'climate changes' against the specific setting of that eternal and perfect literary moment, May Day.