Session Title

Love Thy Neighbor?

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Travis Neel, Richard H. Godden

Organizer Affiliation

Ohio State Univ., Tulane Univ.

Presider Name

Jessica Rosenfeld

Presider Affiliation

Washington Univ. in St. Louis

Paper Title 1

Hawkin and His Neighbors

Presenter 1 Name

John Slefinger

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Ohio State Univ.

Paper Title 2

"He went with his meyné": War and Leadership in the Story of Guy of Warwick

Presenter 2 Name

James T. Stewart

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville

Paper Title 3

Love of Neighbor, Love of Self, Love of the Commune: The Order of Charity in Medieval Political Discourse

Presenter 3 Name

Teresa Rupp

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Mount St. Mary's Univ.

Start Date

15-5-2015 1:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 1160

Description

Love Thy Neighbor?

Whether as a figure of intimate proximity, moral obligation, psychoanalytic anxiety, or a metaphor for a literary history that eschews the genealogical, the medieval neighbor has long lurked on the margins of medieval scholarship. Barbara Hanawalt’s historical inquiries into the medieval family (most notably in The Ties that Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England) has demonstrated the ways in which reciprocal relations between neighbors often produced fraught and anxious exchanges. Recently, Slavoj Zizek, Eric Santner, and Kenneth Reinhard have interrogated the uncanniness that the neighbor introduces into the social field, inserting neighbor-love into conversations in political theology as discussed by Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben. In Medieval Studies, Aranye Fradenburg, George Edmundson, Richard Godden, and Emily Houlik-Ritchey have suggested a number of varied, challenging, and exigent ways in which the field of medieval studies can take up and complicate the injunction to love thy neighbor in medieval England. While the figure of the medieval neighbor suggests the ways in which a medieval community might be constituted, delimited, defined, and defended, the neighbor is also a reminder of the danger, aggressivity, and violence inherent in establishing communities. Although the neighbor might stand surety, serve as a witness, be most likely to enter into a trothplight, or offer mutual aid and support in a time of need, the neighbor was also a figure of the uncanny: just as likely to appear in the assize of nuisance, to commit murder, to discover a corpse, or to threaten, violate, or usurp an individual’s person, family, or property.

The recent turn to virtue and ethics in literary and historical criticism along with the rise of affect theory have provided powerful methods for approaching the ethical and affective claims imposed on and by the medieval neighbor. Our panel seeks to build on these developments and on the recent works on the neighbor presented at both NCS 2012 and ICMS 2014. We hope to invite papers that will recognize the various ways in which the neighbor occupied a crucially important position between the individual and the community in late medieval England: one that was malleable, on the move, potentially dangerous, infinitely valuable, and ultimately inevitable. Yet, while the medieval neighbor is ubiquitous in both documentary and literary sources of medieval England, some of the basic questions about neighbors and neighborliness remain unexamined. Our panel will solicit papers from all disciplines and national traditions in order to address the following questions: Who was considered a neighbor? What degree of proximity, care, or relationality was required to be a neighbor? What were the legal obligations mandating relations among neighbors? How far did the injunction to love thy neighbor extend? To what extent did the language of neighbor-love extend to foreigners and enemies or to figures of cultural, religious, and embodied difference? What discourses were mobilized to promote, spread, and also constrain the love for and of the neighbor?

These questions have animated our scholarship, and new work continues to suggest both how medievalists might contribute to contemporary discussions about the neighbor and how contemporary inquiries into neighbor-love might re-orient our understanding of medieval culture. The neighbor was a figure who posed enormous ethical and affective claims in medieval society. The neighbor was a figure who posed enormous ethical and affective claims in medieval society. By examining the medieval neighbor through law, literature, theology, social theory, and politics, our panel seeks a more historical account of neighbor-love in medieval England and a more thorough account of how the neighbor shaped both the desire for and the impossibilities of medieval community.
~ Travis Neel & Richard Godden

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May 15th, 1:30 PM

Love Thy Neighbor?

Schneider 1160

Love Thy Neighbor?

Whether as a figure of intimate proximity, moral obligation, psychoanalytic anxiety, or a metaphor for a literary history that eschews the genealogical, the medieval neighbor has long lurked on the margins of medieval scholarship. Barbara Hanawalt’s historical inquiries into the medieval family (most notably in The Ties that Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England) has demonstrated the ways in which reciprocal relations between neighbors often produced fraught and anxious exchanges. Recently, Slavoj Zizek, Eric Santner, and Kenneth Reinhard have interrogated the uncanniness that the neighbor introduces into the social field, inserting neighbor-love into conversations in political theology as discussed by Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben. In Medieval Studies, Aranye Fradenburg, George Edmundson, Richard Godden, and Emily Houlik-Ritchey have suggested a number of varied, challenging, and exigent ways in which the field of medieval studies can take up and complicate the injunction to love thy neighbor in medieval England. While the figure of the medieval neighbor suggests the ways in which a medieval community might be constituted, delimited, defined, and defended, the neighbor is also a reminder of the danger, aggressivity, and violence inherent in establishing communities. Although the neighbor might stand surety, serve as a witness, be most likely to enter into a trothplight, or offer mutual aid and support in a time of need, the neighbor was also a figure of the uncanny: just as likely to appear in the assize of nuisance, to commit murder, to discover a corpse, or to threaten, violate, or usurp an individual’s person, family, or property.

The recent turn to virtue and ethics in literary and historical criticism along with the rise of affect theory have provided powerful methods for approaching the ethical and affective claims imposed on and by the medieval neighbor. Our panel seeks to build on these developments and on the recent works on the neighbor presented at both NCS 2012 and ICMS 2014. We hope to invite papers that will recognize the various ways in which the neighbor occupied a crucially important position between the individual and the community in late medieval England: one that was malleable, on the move, potentially dangerous, infinitely valuable, and ultimately inevitable. Yet, while the medieval neighbor is ubiquitous in both documentary and literary sources of medieval England, some of the basic questions about neighbors and neighborliness remain unexamined. Our panel will solicit papers from all disciplines and national traditions in order to address the following questions: Who was considered a neighbor? What degree of proximity, care, or relationality was required to be a neighbor? What were the legal obligations mandating relations among neighbors? How far did the injunction to love thy neighbor extend? To what extent did the language of neighbor-love extend to foreigners and enemies or to figures of cultural, religious, and embodied difference? What discourses were mobilized to promote, spread, and also constrain the love for and of the neighbor?

These questions have animated our scholarship, and new work continues to suggest both how medievalists might contribute to contemporary discussions about the neighbor and how contemporary inquiries into neighbor-love might re-orient our understanding of medieval culture. The neighbor was a figure who posed enormous ethical and affective claims in medieval society. The neighbor was a figure who posed enormous ethical and affective claims in medieval society. By examining the medieval neighbor through law, literature, theology, social theory, and politics, our panel seeks a more historical account of neighbor-love in medieval England and a more thorough account of how the neighbor shaped both the desire for and the impossibilities of medieval community.
~ Travis Neel & Richard Godden