Forum Posts

stefankoek
Dec 14, 2018
In Heroes, Saints, & Lovers
It was not until I read this article that I recognized a certain pattern in the Stanzaic Mort. Throughout the poem the majority of Lancelot's actions and choices are dictated (if indirectly) by Gaynor , rather than him forging his own destiny, his choices tied to a thread that has been stitched by Gaynor. As Whetter points out, it was by Gaynor's wish that the tournament was held, the tournament in which Lancelot was wounded. It's interesting that he should meet the Maid of Ascolot as a direct consequence of Gaynor's insistence on a tournament. Now, this is not to suggest any sort of Second Eve line of thinking, I am not insinuating fault, but rather causality, in this case. Later on, Lancelot's return to the court is for the purpose of defending Gaynor, and again later to rescue Gaynor from being burnt to death. Whetter's article touches on something which we did not have a chance to discuss much in class: Lancelot's taking the cowl. Again, Lancelot's actions are guided by Gaynor's own. Whetter states that "having become religious only out of love for the Queen, Launcelot's secular motives are further apparent in his subsequently praying for a kiss before they part," and relates that Lancelot's vow to religion is not so much about being pious or anything like that, but rather "as a reflexion of who is on his amorous mind." (Whetter, 100). With agency being an ever-present topic, I cannot help but wonder: between Gaynor and Lancelot, who displays the most agency? Or are they simply moved by Fate?
0
1
7
stefankoek
Dec 12, 2018
In Heroes, Saints, & Lovers
In her paper, 'A Bad Girl will Love you to Death", Janet Knepper gives a poignant exploration of a rather sad and pitiable character in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur. In a way, it seems as if the reader is led to devalue the Maid of Ascolot (MoA) as a character. As Knepper mentions, the MoA's "effictio is truncated and dismissive ... No blond hair, no shining grey eyes", none of the formulaic descriptors readers come to expect from the blazon; "the Maid's effictio basically just gives her a red face." On top of this diminished and vague physical description, the MoA's "histrionic passion" and her actions are excessive and off-putting, which seems to me a rather smart move on the part of the writer, for the reader is put in the same uncomfortable position as Lancelot who can but awkwardly deny her advances. (Knepper 230). Lancelot is put in an unfair position for the MoA states "her love as a case of life or death"(230). Unfortunately, as we find out later, this is truly the case, for she arrives in a boat with a letter expressing the outcome of unrequited love. But while she yet lives, she is "an object of pity" for Lancelot, and this pity is what ultimately causes the drama between Lancelot and Gaynor, because he gives up his armor and shield at the MoA's request. Knepper says that "these requests cause disruption and confusion in the sign-system of courtly love and chivalric identification." Indeed, this confusion transfers to Gawain's confusion, for why else would the MoA possess Lancelot's equipment? Knepper makes a similar statement saying the Maid "deliberately misuses the signs of courtly culture, and her manipulations and lies cause grief and disruption," and even Gawain is, as a result, shamed by this, for he is made to report a falsehood which he believes to be true. After thinking more deeply about the Lady of Ascolot's role in the story it becomes a bit difficult to feel pity for her for the severe amount of disruption she causes.
0
1
10
stefankoek
Dec 12, 2018
In Heroes, Saints, & Lovers
It's hard to imagine a time when Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was not exceedingly popular, a time when it did not yet have innumerable articles written about nearly every aspect of it. It was an entertaining read in itself to see the history behind SGGK's rise from obscurity, but the most interesting to me, perhaps, was the segment about the many retellings, specifically re-imaginings of the tale as a children's story. The ways in which the story and all its complexities were condensed and in some cases sanitized, in one case "to focus on Gawain’s keeping his word as the point of his honor", shows more about what people at the time might have thought important than the poem's actual purpose. Something that I've often observed but never seen talked about in scholarship is the debasement of great medieval works such as SGGK by simplification "as creators of fiction, popular music, films, comics, and even computer games dispassionately dismantle the received material for their own purposes." (Nastali, 51).
0
2
14
stefankoek
Nov 03, 2018
In Heroes, Saints, & Lovers
This was an exceedingly stimulating article, as I hadn’t consciously given the concept of liminality much thought before. While reading this article I could not help but constantly being reminded of the theory of Schrodinger’s cat in which a cat is theoretically placed in a box, and no one knows whether the cat is living or dead until the box is opened (and in that sense the cat is both living and dead [or neither living nor dead] until the box is opened). Spyra provides Victor Turner’s description of liminality in the context of “neophytes within the dynamics of … rites (of passage),” saying “he notes that they ‘are neither living nor dead from one aspect and both living and dead from another.’”(Spyra, 58). In connection to Orfeo and Orpheus, this further let my mind wander to the idea of Pluto/Hades, who must be both living and dead, for he resides in the underworld where death is all-pervasive and yet he has the qualities of being fully alive. I suppose that this goes for any character in an underworld setting, this both being dead and alive, neither alive nor dead, occupying opposing states. I had been wondering what initiated the connection between the faerie and the mortal world. The grafted tree has been much discussed as a sort of ‘portal’, but considering the article’s insistence that the people who are contacted or taken are themselves usually in a liminal state as well (infancy, puberty, etc.) the tree didn’t seem adequate and so I was trying to identify the Queen’s liminal state. She wasn’t just recently married, between girlhood and womanhood, as is the case with Eurydice in the original myth, so that didn’t work. Then it occured to me that dreaming is most certainly a liminal state, and (in addition to the presence of the grafted tree) what likely made Heurodis vulnerable to contact from the faerie world. In addition to all the thoughts reading this article induced me to have (most of which I have not written here), it has provided me with a new lens through which to view our texts (and texts I’ve read in the past), and I anticipate pulling this lens out frequently from here on out.
0
4
73
stefankoek
Sep 22, 2018
In Heroes, Saints, & Lovers
In his paper, Jonathan Hsy notes that “in chapter 74, Margery expresses an inordinate desire for contact with lepers.” While he focuses heavily on the question of same-sex desire in this chapter (as well as the connection between leprosy and lechery), I would offer another reading. The chapter in question makes explicit in the beginning Margery’s will do die (or impatience for death) “turning over in her mind the time of her death, grievously sighing and sorrowing because it was so long delayed,” and shortly after having the wish to kiss lepers “very full of the disease.” (Penguin pages 216 + 217). It seems to me that this is connected, that on top of any sexual connotations the kissing of the lepers might have, that this kissing is primarily an attempt at accelerating towards the death which she impatiently awaits. While I do not think that it’s any of my business to be commenting on the sexuality of another person, let alone a woman who lived nearly a thousand years ago, I will concede that there is perhaps something going on in chapter 74. After speaking of kissing female lepers on the mouth, the text makes note of a virgin woman with ‘many temptations,’ and states that Margery ‘went to her many times’. She is the only leper in this chapter who is singled out and so it seems plausible that Margery fancied this woman, or at least got some sort of pleasure by visiting her. Again, it seems foolish to try and make such an assumption, but when reading I couldn’t help but think it (especially since the woman is identified as having trouble with sexual desire). It seems to me, though, that Margery did not care who she kissed (as long as it was a leper with a mouth) and that the chief purpose was to degrade or possibly infect herself.
0
2
21
stefankoek
More actions