February 4, 2011: First Fridays Speakers Series, "The Arthurian Reformation: Between Truth and Fiction"
Date: Friday, February 4, 2011
Location: Hamilton Smith Hall, room 101
Join us for our first Speakers Series event of 2011! Michelle Warren, Professor of Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College will join us to discuss her current research. She has provided the following abstract describing the parameters of her research:
"My current research concerns the translation, commerce, and nation-building in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century England. This project began with an inauspicious case: a long, boring, poem translated from French prose into pedestrian English couplets, read by a very few people, surviving in a single incomplete manuscript. Nonetheless, I have found that Henry Lovelich's History of the Grail and History of Merlin emerged from a fascinating network of cultural pressures in the early decades of the fifteenth century, connected to both aristocratic French literature and powerful London merchants. The manuscript went on to play an integral role in some of the most volatile political discussions of the mid- to late sixteenth century. At the same time, it reflects succinctly the shifting social value of literature from the eighteenth century to the present day.
My talk will focus on several key moments in the material history of Lovelich's book. The manuscript entered Archbishop Matthew Parker's library in the sixteenth century as a testament to royal legitimacy and ecclesiastical autonomy. It remained a witness to historical truth until the late eighteenth century; it was only then that a new library catalogue divested the poem of its claim to historical truth, reclassifying it as a "romance of the first British muse." With a nineteenth-century comparison of Lovelich to Tennyson, the poem landed definitively in the realm of literature -- ready to fulfill the role of "bad literature" against the shining example of Chaucer. The shifting fortunes of Lovelich's book witness the gradual divorce between French and English, and between truth and fiction, in British literary history."
This event is free and open to the public. Please contact the English Department for more information about this event: (603) 862-1313.