|Title||Symbolism, Silence, and Monstrosity in Medieval Romance|
|Date/Time||Wednesday 6 July 2022: 14.15-15.45|
|Organiser||IMC Programming Committee|
|Moderator/Chair||Mickey Sweeney, School of English, Dominican University, Illinois|
|Paper 1204-a||The World of La Queste del Saint Graal: Reality Between Symbolic Significance and Spiritual Interpretation
Monica Oanca Ruset, Facultatea de Limbi și Literaturi Străine, Universitatea din Bucureşti
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Comparative; Lay Piety
|Paper 1204-b||Between the Borders of Silence and Silenced: Decoding Political Acts of Sonic Reticence in Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde
Kortney Stern, Department of English, Indiana University, Bloomington
Index Terms: Gender Studies; Politics and Diplomacy; Women's Studies
|Paper 1204-c||Fluid Identities: Dynamics of Alienation from and Assimilation into the Christian Community in the Romance of Sir Gowther
Ulaş Özgün, Department of English Language & Literature, Hacettepe University, Ankara
Index Terms: Crusades; Hagiography; Language and Literature - Middle English
La Queste del Saint Graal is a complex text in which the narrative lines are interlaced and interrupted by visions and moral teachings. The adventures of various knights are recorded in chronological order, but their impact in the economy of the Arthurian universe can only be grasped if their spiritual dimension is emphasised. Not only do real events acquire several layers of interpretation, but more significantly, their symbolical meaning is more important than their materiality. The author will point out that events and characters that are described as real have a spiritual scope and their meaning and importance is revealed only when their symbolism is uncovered.
Silence proves to be a force that cannot be taken from Criseyde, unlike her speech, which is consistently taken out of context and used against her throughout Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. While Troilus ends with an uncanny laugh that reverberates hauntingly and mockingly from Troilus's perch in heaven down to Criseyde, the woman he wishes to smear, belittle, or even eradicate from the world below, Criseyde's silence persists. As such, this paper aims to recognize the power of Criseyde's silent politics, as she wages war against the canon her narrative is part of and the chorus of mocking, misogynistic laughter that Troilus's cackle thwarts at Criseyde's character in the final pages of Troilus. Although Criseyde's act of resistive silence is only captured briefly in Book II, the underlying fear that ricochets from Troilus's laugh three books after Criseyde's defiantly silent dream scene should not be overlooked. Thus, while it may be tempting to attribute Criseyde's frequent silencing to the status of her minoritised female body in the text, I will draw attention to the ways in which her character is not tethered to one narrative, trope, or position in Troilus, for though her vocalizations are frequently silenced, she also deploys silences that empower, protest, resist, and refuse within the story. It is time scholars listen to Criseyde through the silences that she makes rather than tethering her body and its status to the words the text will not allow her to say.
Monsters flourish on the borders because as symbolic and literal areas of alterity and convergence, these regions offer grounds for discursive contestation in which the other is pushed to the realms of monstrosity with the hope of legitimising the self's normative standards. However, these standards are structured upon spatio-temporal parameters that are ever-changing so that the normative self's attempt at constructing an enclosed identity is essentially vulnerable. In the Middle Ages, formulation of identity on malleable precepts such as customs, language, and religion further enhances this vulnerability since performative compliance or deviance enables transition across the constructed boundaries between the self and the other. From this perspective, this paper argues that the romance of Sir Gowther problematises the deterministic and static perception of monstrosity that locks individuals or groups of people in the category of the monstrous other because of their difference. In contrast, the text assumes a fluid approach to identity exemplified through Gowther's assumption of various identities by performatively complying with the required manner of behaviour that each identity dictates.