This paper will discuss the problems with translation and lexical interpretation of the text surrounding two idesa from Cotton Vitellius A.xv. Grendel's mother and Judith have been chosen for discussion because of the debates arising from the translation of the descriptive language surrounding them within their respective poems. The words are often rigidly translated, allowing for little or no interpretation of these characters and their actions. The significance of their roles is reduced to stylized readings because of the lack of interpretive depth many translations provide.
Scholarship has been presented recently which questions translation methods; there is a call for neutral translations which allow for wider readings of the original texts. Analysis of unbiased translations provides new context for Grendel's mother's and Judith's actions; it would not prevent these characters from being perceived negatively, but would allow for other readings. This paper will argue that the poets' lexical choices can (and perhaps should) be read positively, and neutral translations which allow for such readings are preferable to those that restrict reader interpretation. It will analyze the various language used in depictions of these women, discussing the effect of neutral translations on readings of these women, and the historical implications therein.
A Defense of Betrayal in Malory's Morte Darthur. Basil A. Clark, Saginaw Valley State University
Betrayal is a grave moral offense: to one's country it is treason, punishable by death; to one's friend it is ruptured relationship and darkness of soul. It permeates the romances of Sir Thomas Malory beginning with King Uther Pendragon's betrayal of Duke Gorlois of Cornwall and culminating in Mordred's betrayal of Arthur. Betrayal is a bleak affair, but my paper argues that dark as it may be, betrayal is finally a positive influence in Arthurian legend. True, the love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere combines with the futile quest of Arthur's knights for the Grail to destroy the Fellowship of the Round Table; but in contrast, Uther's betrayal of Gorlois brings Arthur into the world, and Mordred's betrayal of Arthur culminates in the appointment of Constantine as Arthur's successor, and continuation of the royal line, with the comforting hope of Arthur's return, much in the manner of Christ. In support of its thesis, my paper also includes in addition to those mentioned above Gawain's perceived betrayal of Lancelot of Gaheris and Gareth, and Lady Elaine's betrayal of Lancelot.
Bastardry in the Late Medieval Burgundian Court. Elise Boneau, Western Michigan University
Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, had twenty-seven illegitimate children, several of whom found places of esteem inside the premier court of the late medieval period. While illegitimacy is typically regarded as a prime detriment to social status, the bastard children of high-ranking nobles often found themselves occupying an interstitial position of not-quite-noble and yet not to be disregarded among the accounts of rank. The Burgundian court, while perhaps the most majestic of its contemporaries, was itself of dual identity, aiming for independence while still technically owing allegiance to both France and the Holy Roman Emperor. The Duke's political balancing act produced a court whose focus was primarily upon the military form of masculine behavior, while incorporating influences from the Church and the Estates.
This paper investigates how the status of illegitimacy was used, particularly by Philip's oldest child Anthony, as a sign of place within the court. Anthony, with the official title of the grand bitarde, will be the starting point for an investigation into how illegitimate were viewed within the court, how the standards of masculine behavior were manipulated to accommodate their presence, and how the Duke's offspring turned the circumstances of their birth to their advantage.
Cathedral St. Lazarus at Autun: Romanesque Sacred Imagery and Profane Iconography within the Capital Sculptural Program. Stephanie Sinclair and James Pearson Duffy, Wayne State University
At Autun during the medieval period, economic, biological, and religious forces affected both the growth and use of the new urban environment. The Cathedral of St. Lazarus influenced the economic growth of Autun through the physical construction of the Cathedral, rendering of the artistic programming, and housing of saintly relics that inspired pilgrimage. As large amounts of people made pilgrimage to Autun, the Cathedral of St. Lazarus offered a powerful message both aurally and visually. The sacred imagery and profane iconography within the sculptural programming elucidate the carefully orchestrated arrangement of the moral meanings of the sculptural program in exquisite Romanesque style. Through the examination of three historiated capitals within the nave, choir, and apse, by the masterly hand of the artists Gislebertus, we see the relevance of the incorporation of both the sacred and profane and how that blending exemplifies certain trends of Romanesque art.
Concerning the Bayeux Tapestry's Patronage. Matthew Armelagos, Wayne State University
The Bayeux Tapestry is well-versed in its historical accounts, but there is much controversy regarding its creation. The work, actually an embroidery, is a detailed narrative of the events surrounding William the Conqueror's Norman Conquest of England. Although the Conquest has been accurately documented, contention still exists pertaining to its production of the Tapestry, especially of its patronage. Traditional thought has centered on the figure of Bishop Odo, William's half-brother, but recent evidence has suggested that proclamation may be murky. This recent evidence focuses on a certain Count Eustache II of Boulogne, a figure given prominence throughout the Tapestry. I aim to settle the debate on patronage, as well as narrow down other facts regarding the Tapestry's production.
Courting Cities, Courting Kings: Royal Ceremonies in Sicily During the War of the Sicilian Vespers. Jack Goodman, Western Michigan University
After expelling King Charles of Anjou from Sicily in 1282, the threatened Sicilian cities turned to the Count-King of Catalonia-Aragon--Peter 1--and offered the Iberian ruler the crown of the Kingdom. Peter accepted the offer and brought his soldiers and ships to the timely defense of the island. However, Peter and his sons realized their hold on Sicily was tenuous and in the eyes of the Pope and the Kings of France--supporters of Charles--illegitimate. The Catalan rulers, as presented in both Catalan and Sicilian chronicles, used ceremonial events such as coronations, weddings, and royal entries into cities as a way to strengthen their hold on the island. The new kings sought to imitate the ceremonies of the well-regarded Hohenstaufen dynasty, which Charles had ended when he took control of the kingdom. As the Catalan kings restored the ancient ritual traditions of Sicilian kings, the two leading cities of the island--Palermo and Messina--used these events to ingratiate themselves with their new rulers, competing with each other and engaging in a ritual rivalry for royal favor. These events, seldom mentioned by scholars, played an important role in the successful establishment an independent, Catalan-ruled Kingdom of Sicily.
Female Honor in Usamah ibn Munqidh's Kitah al-I'tibar. Natale Kohout, Baker College of Clinton Township
Usamah ibn Munqidh was born in Shayzar, in northern Syria, just months before Pope Urban's speech at Clermont in 1095 unleashed the First Crusade. Usamah lived in a unique political time in history and interacted with many different peoples over his life. Therefore Usamah's Book of Instructive Example (Kitab al-I'tibar) is a fascinating look into the world of the twelfth-century Levant and its peoples.
Women, both Frankish and Muslim, are seen through the eyes of Usamah ibn Munqidh. Throughout his text there is one overall notion that pervades every female depiction, that being the concept of honor, as defined by Usamah. Muslim women all are portrayed by Usamah in various anecdotes as acting within their proscribed roles and within the expectations of society. Honor is a foremost concern to the both men and women at this time, and the Muslim women act in ways to preserve it for themselves and their families. In contrast Frankish women are described in a negative light without the concern for honor and respect which was found in their Muslim equivalents. In other words, honor was the most significant concept around which Usamah constructed the stories involving women, both Muslim and Frank.
Plague Art: The Importance of Images During the Black Death. (Poster) Heather Q. E. Deason, Wayne State University
For Medievalists, fourteenth-century Europe is a time and place that can never be forgotten; it consisted of war, famine, pestilence, death and a displaced Holy See. Saints cried, peasants prayed, artists painted, and out of the ashes sprang forth a new genre of art that captivated its viewers and had wealthy patrons scurrying to donate art in an effort to secure their soul's final home. This paper will look at images of intercessory saints, death and suffering which served those who had to endure the great tragedy that had befallen their world and kept faith and remembrance alive.
Political Theory and the Roman Empire. Thomas Retina, Saginaw Valley State University
Why were medieval political theorists obsessed with the Roman empire? Some answers include: the removal of the protective cover of the Hohenstaufen after 1250; the increase in papal power; the unitary nature of God and, in theory, the Church; the pope's accumulation of Roman titles and symbols. But with Dante and other imperialists, the Donation of Constantine and the idea of the transfer of empire from the Romans to the Germans, forced both imperialists and papalists to connect emperor and pontiff to ancient Rome. In their attempts to confront the new problems caused by the popes' new residence at Avignon, the normative Roman empire became the counterpart to the archetypical apostolic Church.
Sources for the Byzantine Reconquest of the Balkans. Timothy C. McLin, Saginaw Valley State University
The use of various Byzantine military sources allows us insight into the reconquest of the Balkans from 500-900 AD.
The Black Death, the Mongols, and China. Sarah Vanneste, Wayne State
The Black Death of the fourteenth century is most commonly thought of as a European phenomenon. Though historians acknowledge its origins in lands outside of Europe, the portrayal of plague in these areas is often shadowy and only briefly described. The course of the plague in Chinese areas and the effects on society and life that it caused there deserve much greater attention than they have received thus far. There is little reason to believe that the effects of the fourteenth century plague pandemic had any less devastating effects in parts of China than it did in parts of Europe, but these questions have received much less investigation. This paper reviews what has been discussed thus far regarding the fourteenth century plague in China and examines this pandemic as a pan-Eurasian phenomenon, highlighting the ways in which the connections between Asia and Europe, largely wrought by the Mongol conquests, facilitated the plague's spread. Additionally, this paper argues that the plague's effects in China need to be further examined. Massive loss of population in China due to plague must have had extensive effects on the area, and the plague's role in the downfall of Mongol rule in China deserves greater investigation.