(1 – Papers) Family and Kinship in Marie de France
Twelfth-century woman poet and author of the Lais, Marie de France has long been celebrated for the richness of her courtly texts. However, her detailed insights into life and love are by no means limited to the courtly love paradigm. Rather, Marie’s works present her audience with an intimate look at friendships, alliances, rivalries, family bonds and ties of different kinds that paint a picture of the interconnectedness of medieval relationships in their context. Papers may address any of the known works by Marie de France (the Lais, the Fables, the Espurgatoire seint Patriz, La vie Seinte Audree) or the anonymous lays. Comparative and interdisciplinary analyses that draw connections between works of medieval literature on family and kinship are welcome. Papers may consider, but should not be limited to, gender and sexuality studies, narratology, psychology, and so on. The objective is to generate discussion on how Marie de France’s works construct relationships in the courtly context, as well as their broader meanings today.
(2 – Roundtable) Bodies and Gender in Marie de France —New Theoretical Lenses
This session focuses on how and what material bodies can signify in medieval culture in the works of Marie de France (the Lais, the Fables, the Espurgatoire seint Patriz, La vie Seinte Audree). Four to five Roundtable presenters will consider the complex spectrum of medieval gender identities revealed to us through Marie’s various literary genres, exploring medieval conversations about how narratives that focus on the body’s parameters (from essentialist to performative) might represent sex, gender, and sexuality in different ways. Presenters may consider bodies torn between the demands of the physical and the devotional, with specific focus on monstrous, hybrid, comical, political, and social bodies. Discussants will address the impact of recent theoretical interests on Marie’s narrative uses of bodies, including, but not limited to, performance theory, gender theory, and post-colonial theory. The objective is to generate discussion between roundtable presenters and participants to consider the functions of mimicry, gender-ambiguity, and wounded-ness (among others) in the creation of narrative selves, as well as how the dynamic variety of bodies represented in Marie’s works can give us access to medieval conversations about the forces underlying theological, political, social, and textual power.
(3 – Performances) Performances of Marie de France: Chevrefoil
In this performance session, three to five performers will present the lai of Marie de France entitled Chevrefoil. As in years past, the panel invites performers who revive the lai by using period music, new translations, and dramatic readings in the original language. As Joyce Coleman, Evelyn Birge Vitz, and others have argued, hearing a text read aloud or watching its performance both mirrors the way the work would have been consumed in the Middle Ages and enhances our modern understanding. Our attendees regularly report that their perception of the work changes over the course of the session. The objective is to generate discussion about the use of voice, gesture, and music in the embodiment of the text – and how its performance reveals nuances of meaning that may be lost when read in silence on the page.