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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER private reading might be as much ear-reading as eye-reading weakens her argument. I would not wish to make too much of this criticism, however, for the vast majority of Coleman's examples are unambiguous and taken en masse make an overwhelming case for the importance ofau­ rality in the late Middle Ages. This is a book that no one interested in the cultural context of late medieval poetry can afford to ignore. RICHARD FIRTH GREEN University of Western Ontario RITA COPELAND, ed. Criticism and Dissent in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Pp. xii, 332. $59.95. Here is a volume of excellence; a reviewer's first response might forgiv­ ably be jealousy of those invited to contribute. To an unusual extent these contributors share a common purpose-a desire to provide a mul­ tivocal account ofmedieval culture that breaks down period boundaries and shows the relevance to modern debates ofmedieval discourses oftex­ tuality and interpretation. Far from being monolithic, these discourses are "heterogeneous, conflicted and conflictually invested, even within their own established orders" (p. 1). So writes Rita Copeland in her in­ troduction, calling for a dismantling of "the binarism orthodoxy/dis­ sent" by means of a practice she calls, in quotes, "dissenting reading" (p. 5). Copeland then provides a sustained example of such reading: Prudentius's account ofthe martyrdom ofthe grammarian Cassian in re­ lation to William of Malmesbury's report of the death of Eriugena; and the focus of her reading is on the fault lines of cultural dislocation. Copeland's attention to violence yields place to Jody Enders's open­ ing essay, which argues uncompromisingly that the violence ofthe me­ dieval classroom stems from that ofmemory theory itself; torture is the ultimate mnemonic, over which are cast the fictions of beauty and cre­ ativity. Our own "hopeful belief" in nonviolence is just that, a neces­ sary social pretense. Enders's discourse serves to connect the classical, medieval, and modern as it ranges from Cicero to Artaud and Stanislavski; though I consider it finally unhistorical in its annihilation of the differences between medieval and modern classrooms and its disregard of educational change even within the last generation, it serves as a vigorous claim for the relevance of medieval practice. There 240 REVIEWS follows a superb essay by Marjorie Curry Woods, "Rape and the Pedagogical Rhetoric of Sexual Violence," which should be set reading for any student ofpsychoanalysisattempting to understand,say, Freud's gendered reading ofa male child's transition from child to adult. Woods explicates the use of three passages describing rape from authoritative works such as school texts in the later Middle Ages. What impresses this reader is her desire to understand, powerfully enacted in historicist close reading. Woods refuses to be reductive, reading Pamphilus as, in effect, an early picaresque novel in which-here Woods draws a paral­ lel with Carol Clover's work on horror movies-boys are forced to imag­ ine themselves as victims as well as the possessors ofpower. There is no elision of historical difference here as Woods insists: "This absolutely patriarchal tradition was neither simplistic nor psychologically crude, and while we may be repelled by its very success, it behooves us to un­ derstand what we can of its processes" (p. 74). After so strong a reading, Martin Irvine's essay on "Heloise and the Gendering ofthe Literate Subject" seems merely good and informative, especially on the manuscripts and the genre of the Senecan epistola. Though it begins by asserting that Heloise had to work with a literate subject that was encoded as masculine, it concludes that the correspon­ dence reveals this subject position to have been negotiable and provi­ sional. The essay might have done more to dramatize its problems with its own terms, but it remains a persuasive account of Heloise as dis­ senting writer. In the next essay, however, Michael Camille's "The Dissenting Image: A Postcard from Matthew Paris," the dissent is re­ ally Camille's-registered against Derrida's use of a postcard showing Matthew Paris's illustration of Socrates and Plato. Camille reads the image historically as the opposite of Derrida's reading (Derrida...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 240-243
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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