College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
David S. King, “Love, Faithfulness, and Transgression: the Pavilion Motif in the Prose ‘Lancelot’”
The second half of the thirteenth-century French Prose Lancelot features a series of sexual encounters in pavilions, all variations on a theme borrowed from Chrétien de Troyes’s Conte du graal where Perceval takes advantage of a young woman in a tent. The contrast between the exploits of knights who quest for Lancelot and his own misadventure in a pavilion appears to glorify the eponymous hero’s fidelity to his love, King Arthur’s wife, Guenevere. Whereas the questers covet, seduce, or debauch a young woman, Lancelot fends off a sexual advance. However, a careful reading of the series reveals no praise for the adulterous lover’s faithfulness to the queen. The prose romancer instead identifies carnal appetites as a destructive force, preparing readers for the austere values of the romance’s sequel, La Queste del Saint Graal.
Mary Bateman, Miriam Edlich-Muth, and Christian Edlich-Muth, “Disrupted Plans: Negotiating Bevis of Hampton in the Shifting Framework of British Library Egerton MS 2862”
This essay reviews the codicological evidence for planned collation in the late medieval manuscript British Library Egerton 2862 and examines the evident disruption of these plans over time as a starting point for considering the interaction between reader, text, and manuscript. We highlight how the different ‘life stages’ that emerge out of evolving manuscript contexts complicate readers’ engagement with the narrative worlds presented by the texts. In particular, we focus on the folios from ‘Sir Degaré’ that have been added in to the ‘Bevis of Hampton’ section of the manuscript as an example for how interpolation can force the readers of medieval manuscripts to actively negotiate the intersection between reading medieval texts and interpreting the history and composition of the manuscript in which they are contained.
Alexander Falileyev, “Notes on the Itineraries by William Worcestre”
In 1477–1480 William Worcestre travelled extensively through parts of England, including Cornwall, and these journeys are reflected in his Itineraries, which are preserved in a single manuscript. Notwithstanding considerable subsequent discussion of the text, a number of passages prompt different interpretations. This paper offers brief new readings of some of them in order to concentrate on two passages in greater detail. The first of them deals with Worcestre’s record of Oswestry Castle, aspects of which become clearer when Middle Welsh linguistic data is taken into consideration as well as the oral source of this piece of information. The information (informacio) obtained by Worcestre from the unnamed hermit of Elsing in 1479 regarding Scandinavian history and geography has been judged as misleading in many aspects. However, an attentive reading of the passage allows us to explain some apparent inconsistencies found there, and the linguistic / philological analysis on which this new reading is based points to the possibility that we find in the text the first attestation of the English word Russian.