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Magistra Doctissima

Essays in Honor of Bonnie Wheeler

Edited by Dorsey Armstrong, Ann W. Astell, and Howell Chickering

Publication Year: 2013

The editors of this volume use its title to honor Bonnie Wheeler for her many scholarly achievements and to celebrate her wide-ranging contributions to medieval studies in the United States. A section on Old and Middle English literature includes essays by Toshiyuki Takamiya on a Japanese woman writer’s engagement with Grendel’s Mother, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen on Chaucer’s Britishness, Lorraine Kochanske Stock on the “hag” in The Wife of Bath’s Tale, and the late Stephen Stallcup on Arcite’s fatal mishap. The second section, “Arthuriana Then and Now,” features essays by the late Maurice Keen on Arthurian bones and English kings, Geoffrey Ashe on The Prophecies of Merlin, D. Thomas Hanks Jr. on Malory’s prose style, Edward Donald Kennedy on Lancelot of the Laik, Alan Lupack on the cultural resonance of the “strength of ten” motif, and Donald L. Hoffman and Elizabeth S. Sklar on the continued presence of the Holy Grail on the World Wide Web. In the third section, “Joan of Arc Then and Now,” Kelly R. DeVries critiques Joan’s unsuccessful attack on Paris, Kevin Harty reflects on her afterlife on the screen during World War I, and Nadia Margolis explores her presence on stage. The fourth section, “Nuns and Spirituality,” includes Giles Constable’s edition and translation of a hitherto unpublished letter from the abbot of Clairvaux to the abbess of Fontevrault, William Chester Jordan’s study of the precarious conditions of life at a thirteenth-century Cistercian nunnery, Anne Bagnall Yardley’s essay on Mary Magdalene’s musical presence in the Holy Thursday liturgy of Barking Abbey in the late Middle Ages, and Annemarie Weyl Carr’s consideration of El Greco’s Espolio. The final section, “Royal Women,” features an examination by William W. Clark of the personal seal of Constance of France and an edition by Elizabeth A. R. Brown of two previously unpublished bequests by Jeanne d’Évreux to the abbey of Saint-Denis.

Published by: Medieval Institute Publications

Title Page, copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The editors gratefully thank Jo Goyne of Southern Methodist University for her crucial role in helping develop this volume and then assisting in the editing in its early stages. Susan Raymond-Fic and Julie R. Howland of the Amherst College English Department provided much-appreciated secretarial help, ...

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pp. 1-14

Answering Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris in her Book of the City of Ladies (Le Livre de la Cité des Dames, 1405), Christine de Pizan celebrates queens, female warriors, prophetesses, foundresses, inventors of arts and science, instructors, and saints, drawing not only upon classical legends but also from her own experience of educated women, ...

Part 1: Old and Middle English Literature

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Kiyoko Nagase and Her “Grendel’s Mother”

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pp. 17-24

In February 1996 Professor Fred C. Robinson was generous enough to send me a copy of a portfolio file entitled “Beowulf in the Floating World: The Poem Illustrated with Japanese Block Prints from Several Centuries,” edited and compiled by his former student, Professor Marijane Osborn. ...

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British Chaucer

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pp. 25-33

The ambit of Chaucer’s works ranges from England to Africa, from the “errtik sterres” wandering the firmament to the literal bowels of hell. Yet the island from which he writes is a strangely diminished geography. This essay examines Chaucer not as an English poet, not as an international man of letters, ...

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Just How Loathly Is the “Wyf”?: Deconstructing Chaucer’s “Hag” in The Wife of Bath’s Tale

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pp. 34-42

Throughout his oeuvre, Chaucer betrays extreme authorial anxiety about being misinterpreted by readers, about his texts being erroneously transmitted, and about misrepresenting other “auctours” himself.1 He curses future readers/critics who for various reasons “mysdeme” his dream report about visiting Fame’s House (House of Fame [HF] 94–100). ...

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Lectio difficilior and All That: Another Look at Arcite’s Injury

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pp. 43-58

As anyone who has tried to parse Theseus’s “first moevere” speech (perhaps ex tempore before a classroom of undergraduates) will agree, the language of Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale is anything but straightforward and precise. Yet much Chaucer criticism has followed Theseus’s injunction to “make a virtue of necessite” ...

Part 2: Arthuriana Then and Now

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Arthurian Bones and English Kings, ca. 1180–ca. 1550

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pp. 61-70

Gerald of Wales, in his De instructione principum, gives a vivid, probably eyewitness account of the “discovery” at Glastonbury in 1191 of what the abbot and monks (who staged the event) declared to be the bones of King Arthur and his queen, Guenevere. It was the advice of King Henry II, he says, that guided the monks as to where to dig: ...

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The Prophecies of Merlin: Their Originality and Importance

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pp. 71-79

Merlin makes his literary debut on a Welsh hill, usually identified as Dinas Emrys on the fringe of Snowdonia. He is not, of course, an old man with a long white beard. He is a youth, a teenager in fact, and he has been brought there as a human sacrifice. But he saves his life by outwitting his would-be sacrificers. ...

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Notes toward a Reappraisal of Malory’s Prose Style

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pp. 80-88

Style: Jonathan Swift unhelpfully tells us that “proper words in proper places make the true definition of a style.”1 More helpful are Elizabeth Closs Traugott and Mary Louise Pratt, whose Linguistics for Students of Literature provides a useful approach. ...

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The Scottish Lancelot of the Laik and Malory’s Morte Darthur: Contrasting Approaches to the Same Story

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pp. 89-96

The Scots-English Lancelot of the Laik, found in Cambridge University Library Kk.1.5.vii, is an incomplete mid-to-late fifteenth-century verse adaptation of the noncyclic Prose Lancelot do Lac’s account of the love of Lancelot and Guenevere and of the knight Galehot’s war against Arthur. ...

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“The Strength of Ten”: The Cultural Resonance of Tennyson’s “Sir Galahad”

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pp. 97-110

In the author’s preface to her novel Blessed Bastard (1997), Ruth P. M. Lehmann quotes this passage and comments that “in four lines [Tennyson] makes an inhuman monster of [Galahad].”1 But that was not the view of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century readers. Though Tennyson’s “Sir Galahad” can hardly be considered a masterpiece of Victorian verse ...

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Googling the Grail

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pp. 111-120

Our quest, to Google “The Holy Grail” and see what popped up, proved to be a more arduous and daunting undertaking than we had anticipated.1 What “popped up” was more than fourteen million hits, and we found ourselves adrift in a chaotic and alien environment, forced to blunder about in a Perilous Forest littered with cultural junk, ...

Part 3: Joan of Arc, Then and Now

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“Because It Was Paris”: Joan of Arc’s Attack on Paris Reconsidered

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pp. 123-131

"She wished to attack such a strong town and so well stocked with men and artillery, simply because it was the city of Paris.” So rationalized the author of the Journal du siège d’Orléans at the conclusion of his account of the failure of Joan of Arc to take Paris in September 1429.1 ...

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Warrior not Warmonger: Screen Joans during World War I

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pp. 132-141

Gary Leder’s 2002 film, The Impostor, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, is set on a war-ravished Earth in the year 2079. Decades of conflict with invading Alpha Centauri have reduced large parts of the planet to rubble as the human race fights for survival. ...

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The Drama of Left-Wing Joan: From “Merlin’s Prophecy” to Hellman’s Lark

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pp. 142-152

Joan of Arc has functioned as an important political symbol for all manner of factions and causes within and outside France, although her most frequent appropriation in modern times has been by the right in France, most recently Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front Party (1990s).1 ...

Part 4: Nuns and Spirituality

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A Letter to the Abbess of Fontevrault from the Abbot of Clairvaux

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pp. 155-158

Most medieval letters survive in collections, and comparatively few are known from isolated copies.1 The letter published here from Stiftsbibliothek Admont MS 446, fol. 110v was written probably in the middle of the twelfth century by the abbot of Clairvaux to the abbess of Fontevrault. ...

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The Nuns of Bivalin the Thirteenth Century

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pp. 159-168

Even the best scholars of the history of medieval Normandy have had little to say on the Cistercian nunnery of Bival.1 The exception was Joseph Strayer, who in the 1950s discovered a late twelfth-century forged charter pertaining to the abbey, whose text he edited and whose circumstances of production he explained in an article in Speculum.2 ...

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The Sonic Presence of Mary Magdalene at the Last Supper: The Maundy of the Poor at Barking Abbey

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pp. 169-182

In the wake of Dan Brown’s phenomenally popular book The DaVinci Code, several humorous representations of DaVinci’s Last Supper have made the rounds of the Internet with Mary Magdalene inserted into the scene. While these were intended primarily as jests, the chants accompanying the Mandatum pauperum as practices by the nuns at Barking Abbey ...

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The Royal Purple Mantle of El Greco’s Espolio

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pp. 183-198

Bonnie Wheeler’s keen, capacious intellectual imagination enveloped our years of shared teaching like a protean mantle, measured to an ever more demanding body of insight. In our last semester it reached to envelop the very spaces of Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Museum of Spanish Art ...

Part 5: Royal Women

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Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: The Patronage of Constance de France

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pp. 201-216

In late July or early August 1165, Constance, Countess of Toulouse, Duchess of Narbonne, and Marquise of Provence, was suddenly repudiated and “divorced” by her second husband, Raymond V, Count of Toulouse, et cetera. Shortly thereafter, she likely managed to join her brother, Louis VII, in the Auvergne for the journey to Paris, ...

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The Testamentary Strategies of Jeanne d’Évreux: The Endowment of Saint-Denis in 1343

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pp. 217-248

Before her death at Brie-Comte-Robert on March 4, 1371, Jeanne d’Évreux spent forty-three years as a very rich widow after losing her husband, King Charles IV of France (1294–1328) on February 1, 1328.1 The couple had been married since July 5, 1324. Jeanne had had two daughters (one of whom predeceased her father) ...

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pp. 249-254

Dorsey Armstrong is Associate Professor of Medieval Literature in the English Department at Purdue University, where she teaches courses on late medieval literature, Anglo-Saxon language and literature, gender and Women’s Studies, and the medieval world. ...


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pp. 255-273

E-ISBN-13: 9781580441940
Print-ISBN-13: 9781580441773

Page Count: 282
Illustrations: 19 halftones, 1 color
Publication Year: 2013