Session Title

Rhetoric and Voice across the Fifteenth Century (A Roundtable)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Taylor Cowdery, Spencer Strub

Organizer Affiliation

Harvard Univ., Univ. of California-Berkeley

Presider Name

Nicholas Watson

Presider Affiliation

Harvard Univ.

Paper Title 1

The Voice of Skelton's Parrot

Presenter 1 Name

Taylor Cowdery

Paper Title 2

Compilation and the Rhetoric of Immediacy

Presenter 2 Name

Katherine Zieman

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Oxford

Paper Title 3

Catachresis and Historicity

Presenter 3 Name

Julie Orlemanski

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Chicago

Paper Title 4

Rape and the Rhetoric of Resistance

Presenter 4 Name

Carissa M. Harris

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Temple Univ.

Paper Title 5

Eleanor Hull's Voices

Presenter 5 Name

David A. Lawton

Presenter 5 Affiliation

Washington Univ. in St. Louis

Paper Title 6

Sinful Voices

Presenter 6 Name

Spencer Strub

Start Date

12-5-2016 1:30 PM

Session Location

Bernhard 158

Description

In a recent essay, David Lawton has advanced voice as a useful category for the analysis of English literature across the long fifteenth century. “It is in the voice,” he writes, “that we hear complicity, or resistance, or anxiety” in writing composed under new regimes of censorship and scrutiny. Indeed, fifteenth-century voices would seem to register the impress of an era of language change, Lancastrian unease, Humanist polemic, orthodox reform, and articulate lay devotion. Rather than reducing a dialogic Ricardian shout to a monologic Lancastrian whimper, these constraints of fifteenth-century culture are precisely what produce, in Lawton's account, the rhetorical nuances of voice to be found in writing composed after the tenure of Henry IV and Archbishop Arundel.

The proposed panel seeks to build upon Lawton’s theory of voice by considering it not as an essential faculty of speech but as the product of rhetorical craft—as what Lawton provocatively terms “a screen.” Thanks to the pioneering work of Rita Copeland, we know that fifteenth-century writers and readers of English poetry understood both the composition and effects of poetry through the disciplinary framework ofrhetoric. These insights occasion a host of new questions: during a period of turbulent change in the arts of language and literacy, what roles do histories of rhetorical praxis and rhetorical theoria play in the construction of fifteenth-century texts and their voices? Do writers as varied as Margery Kempe, Reginald Pecock, Thomas Hoccleve, or John Skelton trace their subtleties of voice to a common rhetorical culture, or even to common theories of rhetoric? How does that rhetorical culture inflect the politics and poetics of writers attached to courts, bureaucracies, universities, and the church? And to what extent does the body—the flesh of the tongue, the gendered pitches of the larynx—function with or against rhetorical performances of voice? --Spencer Strub and Taylor Cowdery, organizers

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May 12th, 1:30 PM

Rhetoric and Voice across the Fifteenth Century (A Roundtable)

Bernhard 158

In a recent essay, David Lawton has advanced voice as a useful category for the analysis of English literature across the long fifteenth century. “It is in the voice,” he writes, “that we hear complicity, or resistance, or anxiety” in writing composed under new regimes of censorship and scrutiny. Indeed, fifteenth-century voices would seem to register the impress of an era of language change, Lancastrian unease, Humanist polemic, orthodox reform, and articulate lay devotion. Rather than reducing a dialogic Ricardian shout to a monologic Lancastrian whimper, these constraints of fifteenth-century culture are precisely what produce, in Lawton's account, the rhetorical nuances of voice to be found in writing composed after the tenure of Henry IV and Archbishop Arundel.

The proposed panel seeks to build upon Lawton’s theory of voice by considering it not as an essential faculty of speech but as the product of rhetorical craft—as what Lawton provocatively terms “a screen.” Thanks to the pioneering work of Rita Copeland, we know that fifteenth-century writers and readers of English poetry understood both the composition and effects of poetry through the disciplinary framework ofrhetoric. These insights occasion a host of new questions: during a period of turbulent change in the arts of language and literacy, what roles do histories of rhetorical praxis and rhetorical theoria play in the construction of fifteenth-century texts and their voices? Do writers as varied as Margery Kempe, Reginald Pecock, Thomas Hoccleve, or John Skelton trace their subtleties of voice to a common rhetorical culture, or even to common theories of rhetoric? How does that rhetorical culture inflect the politics and poetics of writers attached to courts, bureaucracies, universities, and the church? And to what extent does the body—the flesh of the tongue, the gendered pitches of the larynx—function with or against rhetorical performances of voice? --Spencer Strub and Taylor Cowdery, organizers