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Medieval literature

Why dwell on the past?

My interest in Middle English writing has always been coloured by the question; what access to past lived experience is available from the texts produced in that period? My early research focused on whether the experience of embodiment could be discerned in writing about food; the short answer is yes, but to explore this relationship, new ways of thinking about language and how it creates meaning come into play.

Medieval literature: Skills

Children's Voices in Middle English Narrative

My current work on children’s voices began in 2015 with an Associate Investigator grant for the project “Affect and the Child’s Voice in Middle English Narrative” from the ARC Centre for Excellence for the History of Emotions.

This ongoing exploration of childhood and narrative continues to engage with the relationship of language, embodiment, and historical context. Voices speak words, but they also convey meaning wordlessly through timbre, rhythm, pitch and intonation. How present is the sense of a voice, and the body that produces it, in written texts? How might we bring those voices to life when the worlds that produced them have gone? What does the voice of a child in a literary text express of the culture in which the text was produced? 

Medieval literature: Welcome

Medieval Children's Voices Projects

David and Goliath from Santa Maria de Ta

Podcast with Rob Grout for Emotions Make History series

"Puerile Justice

The Voice of a Boy in Jack and His Stepdame"

In Kids Those Days: Children in Medieval Culture
Edited by Lahney Preston-Matto and Mary A. Valante (forthcoming, 2021)

"Youth and Emotions"

In A Cultural History of Youth in the Medieval Age, ed. Daniel T. Kline (Bloomsbury, Forthcoming, 2021)

Medieval literature: Projects

Other Medieval Projects

Medieval literature: Projects

Contemporary Chaucer across the Centuries

Edited by Helen M. Hickey, Anne McKendry and Melissa Raine

This unique and exciting collection, inspired by the scholarship of literary critic Stephanie Trigg, offers cutting-edge responses to the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer for the current critical moment. The chapters are linked by the organic and naturally occurring affinities that emerge from Trigg’s ongoing legacy; containing diverse methodological approaches and themes, they engage with Chaucer through ecocriticism, medieval literary and historical criticism, and medievalism. The contributors, trailblazing international specialists in their respective fields, honour Trigg’s distinctive and energetic mode of enquiry (the symptomatic long history) and intellectual contribution to the humanities. At the same time, their approaches exemplify shifting trends in Chaucer scholarship. Like Chaucer’s pilgrims, these scholars speak to and alongside each other, but their essays are also attentive to ‘hearing Chaucer speak’ then, now and in the future.

You can read the Introduction here.



Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 2018

See my blog on this piece:

Journal of English and Germanic Philology (18/4/19)

In Emotions and Social Change: Historical and Sociological Perspectives, ed. David Lemmings and Ann Brooks, Routledge 2014.

How successfully can we retrieve emotional engagement by readers with the texts of past periods? Norbert Elias’ Civilizing Process informs this search for how medieval emotional communities negotiated the popular Middle English “Dietary” by John Lydgate. Although dismissed by critics as seemingly banal health advice, the opportunities for introspection provided by the “Dietary” to pre-modern, embodied selves are clarified by attending to the discursive and material aspects of the text, as well as the reading practices of medieval readers.

Viator 43.1 (2012)

The Tale of Gareth combines Malory’s interest in the ethics of the chivalric body with an emphasis on Gareth’s conduct around food. Beginning his time in Arthur’s court as a kitchen hand, he is deprived of courtly alimentation, particularly meat, and the associations of social entitlement that come with the consumption of such meals. Gareth proves his chivalric worth not only by fighting, but also through his exemplary behavior whilst consuming increasingly refined meals throughout the tale, culminating in his own wedding feast. Not only do these meals articulate the non-combative qualities that attest to Gareth’s social superiority; they establish Gareth as a fitting symbolic successor to Arthur and his legacy, and thus offer an assurance of the inherent worthiness of the Arthurian regime despite its eventual tragic demise.

“Fals Flesch”: Food and the Embodied Piety of Margery Kempe

New Medieval Literatures 7 (2005): 101-126.

Nominated article of the month, Feminae, Medieval Women and Gender Index, June 2006:

“Indexers select an article or essay at the beginning of each month that is outstanding in its line of argument, wealth of significances, and writing style. We particularly look for pieces that will be useful as course readings.”

Abstract: In examining Margery Kempe’s various interactions with food which include feeding the poor, fasting, receiving the Eucharist, and eating at the tables of prominent people, Raine does not find gender a highly significant factor. Rather Margery acts out of highly individualized motivations including a concern to establish and enhance her own standing. In her conclusion Raine questions Caroline Walker Bynum’s approach to women and food in Holy Feast and Holy Fast, finding the methodology and assumptions inadequate for the historical realities of gendered expectations and devotional practices. [Abstract supplied by Feminae.]

Medieval literature: List

Childhood and Emotions: A Study Day

With Stephanie Trigg

Read More
Medieval literature: Past Events
Cranach holy kinship.jpg

Past Event

22 September 2017

This event explored the theme of emotions relating to childhood in medieval and early modern Britain. The focus is on children’s own emotions, with consideration of emotions experienced by others in their relationships with children, as well as changes in the cultural representation and historical understanding of pre-modern children.

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