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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER Medieval Medeas," of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate, and ultimately Christine de Pizan. That the final chapter of Morse's book should thus provide the pri­ mary locus for the greatest number of exclusively medieval authors, as well as the title of the work itself, is both telling and puzzling. For if one were to have to say what The Medieval Medea is about, lacking the title as a clue, it seems doubtful many would call it a book about the Middle Ages. Indeed, in the seven-page conclusion entitled "Silence, Exile and Cunning Intelligence," which serves as a coda to the rest, Morse herself remarks, "This book takes its place in a succession of stud­ ies of these legends which have been the purview of classicists and an­ thropologists, for none of whom have the Middle Ages been of prime interest" (p. 240). And indeed, Morse has it right. Much of the old­ fashioned texture of The Medieval Medea comes suddenly clear when, fol­ lowing this directive, Morse's study is placed in line with ethnoliterary works of the last century. Here, as there, we find great reach and sweep, but little time to squander on any single medieval author save Lefevre, on whom Morse writes with wisdom and authority. The result of Morse's choice of models will be, predictably, that puzzlement about the title, and a vague sense among medievalists when the final page is turned of disappointment rather difficult to pin down. But it is a sen­ timent to be resisted, as a second reading, or a third, rewardingly es­ tablishes. True to her claim that to apprehend something truly we must place it fully in context, Morse delivers a Medea feminists should encounter fresh, and strive again to know. R. F. YEAGER University of North Carolina, Asheville JACQUELINE MURRAY and KONRAD EISENBICHLER, eds. Desire and Discipline: Sex and Sexuality in the Premodern West. Toronto, Buffalo, and London: University of Toronto Press, 1996. Pp. xxviii, 311. $21.95 paper. In a properly run Republic of Letters, special orders of merit would be reserved for conference organizers. They must serve first as some com­ bination of budget travel agent, social worker, dietician, and hunt­ master. They must then edit a volume of conference papers in which 302 REVIEWS written unity appears by magic out of performed multiplicity. The con­ ference papers-products of the hundred accidents of scholarly obses­ sion, competence, ambition, delay-must be presented as so many "flowering branches" rising from one "verdant field of research" (p. vii). Or other metaphors to that effect. Of course, the same Republic of Letters would also offer medals for reviewers of conference volumes, who often confront not so much a flowering tree as a public plot planted by diverse hands to contrary tastes. The fifteen essays gathered in this volume had their first germination in a conference on "premodern" sex and sexuality. The editors prefer "premodern" to alternate labels because it "highlights the similarities and continuities" in Europe from the twelfth through the seventeenth centuries. "Premodern" may also be more marketable, as Nancy Partner suggests in her vivid rebuke to standard medieval scholarship. The rhetoric of labeling aside, the papers in this volume do not seem to highlight similarities or continuities. They share few interests and fewer methodological assumptions or procedures. Where the papers cluster chronologically (six of them are at work in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries), the material discontinuities are still enormous. Ivana Elbl collects instances of sexual irregularities in Portuguese colonial records from the 1490s through the 1550s. Carol Kazmierczak Manzione finds cases of sexual misconduct adjudicated by the governors of a London charity hospital between 1560 and 1580. Guy Poirier summarizes fantasies about Middle Eastern and North African sexual mores from sixteenth-century French travel writing. Rona Goffen's elegant analysis of the three Paduan frescoes completed by Titian in 1511 discovers unexpected lessons about the burdens of marital chastity. So the four papers trace out material from adjacent decades, but they do so without intersecting. Even where essays in the volume seem to be treating identical or closely related material, they do not...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 302-305
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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