Session Title

Maternity and Paternity: Theories of Authorship

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship (SMFS)

Organizer Name

Sarah Wilma Watson, Elizaveta Strakhov

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Pennsylvania, Marquette Univ.

Presider Name

Elizaveta Strakhov

Paper Title 1

Familial Reproduction in the Auchinleck: Maternity's Response to Paternal Influence

Presenter 1 Name

Kimberly Tate Anderson

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Florida State Univ.

Paper Title 2

Father Chaucer's Wise Children: Fifteenth-Century Poets and the Fictions of Patrilineal Descent

Presenter 2 Name

Samantha Katz Seal

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of New Hampshire

Paper Title 3

"In thy wombe it wyll be swete": Queer Production in Capgrave's Life of Saint Katherine

Presenter 3 Name

Caitlyn McLoughlin

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Ohio State Univ.

Start Date

13-5-2017 1:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 1120

Description

In the Roman de la Rose, Jean de Meun – following Alain de Lille -- compares authorship to penetrative sexual reproduction. A male writer takes his “stylus” and makes indentations on a tablet or uses his “pen” to scratch characters onto blank parchment, an image subsequently refracted in numerous Rose manuscript illuminations that depict the poet holding his pen out at waist height. Conversely, in her Advision, Christine de Pizan describes authorship as generative birth, relating how she “will deliver” (enfanteras) new works from her memory and how she forgets the pain of “labor” (labour) when she hears the voice of her new books. Pizan’s focus on written production as birth offers an alternative model of writing rooted in her own gendered experience of motherhood. Meanwhile, in his Livre du Voir Dit, Guillaume de Machaut maps collaborative textual production between a male and female poet onto their love affair, where the ensuing co-created text stands in for the couple’s child: in such a way, he brings together the male model of writing as insemination and the female model of writing as birth.

This panel invites papers which consider maternity and paternity as paradigms for conceptualizing authorship and textual production, with a particular focus on how female authors and readers challenge these paradigms. Scholarly work on Chaucer, Hoccleve, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, etc. has tended to privilege the paternity paradigm in a continuation, however implicit, of Harold Bloom’s well-known “anxiety of influence” thesis which focused on paternal structures of literary inheritance. 2015 and 2016, however, have seen the ICMS at Kalamazoo featuring sessions on “unhappy families,” rape and sexual violence in lyrics spoken by female characters, embodied female subjectivity, and feminist approaches to Middle English studies. This session aims to continue the work of these previous panels in troubling top-down, male-focused constructions of literary history.

We solicit papers focusing on theories of embodied authorship, as in the examples above, to investigate metaphors for textual creation patterned on the procreative body, whether male or female. Do the power dynamics of sexual activity (penetration, insemination) always correlate with male fantasies and anxieties over literary dominance and authority? Do female writers imagine their writerly process – and its power dynamics -- differently from male authors? What authorial metaphors are available to women that are not available to men and vice versa? We also solicit papers on broader constructions of authorial identity as expressed through familial terms (literary kinship, genealogy and inheritance) that are thwarted, failing, alien, or otherwise complicated.. What does it mean when a writer chooses a foreign father as a literary parent, as when Chaucer chooses the works of Machaut and Boccaccio as literary models? And how might we understand Christine de Pizan’s turn to Dante over Jean de Meun in light of her Italian family origins yet French cultural upbringing? How, in short, does the real-life experience of having and being fathers and mothers impact authorial self-construction in the late medieval period?

Dorothy Kim

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May 13th, 1:30 PM

Maternity and Paternity: Theories of Authorship

Schneider 1120

In the Roman de la Rose, Jean de Meun – following Alain de Lille -- compares authorship to penetrative sexual reproduction. A male writer takes his “stylus” and makes indentations on a tablet or uses his “pen” to scratch characters onto blank parchment, an image subsequently refracted in numerous Rose manuscript illuminations that depict the poet holding his pen out at waist height. Conversely, in her Advision, Christine de Pizan describes authorship as generative birth, relating how she “will deliver” (enfanteras) new works from her memory and how she forgets the pain of “labor” (labour) when she hears the voice of her new books. Pizan’s focus on written production as birth offers an alternative model of writing rooted in her own gendered experience of motherhood. Meanwhile, in his Livre du Voir Dit, Guillaume de Machaut maps collaborative textual production between a male and female poet onto their love affair, where the ensuing co-created text stands in for the couple’s child: in such a way, he brings together the male model of writing as insemination and the female model of writing as birth.

This panel invites papers which consider maternity and paternity as paradigms for conceptualizing authorship and textual production, with a particular focus on how female authors and readers challenge these paradigms. Scholarly work on Chaucer, Hoccleve, Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, etc. has tended to privilege the paternity paradigm in a continuation, however implicit, of Harold Bloom’s well-known “anxiety of influence” thesis which focused on paternal structures of literary inheritance. 2015 and 2016, however, have seen the ICMS at Kalamazoo featuring sessions on “unhappy families,” rape and sexual violence in lyrics spoken by female characters, embodied female subjectivity, and feminist approaches to Middle English studies. This session aims to continue the work of these previous panels in troubling top-down, male-focused constructions of literary history.

We solicit papers focusing on theories of embodied authorship, as in the examples above, to investigate metaphors for textual creation patterned on the procreative body, whether male or female. Do the power dynamics of sexual activity (penetration, insemination) always correlate with male fantasies and anxieties over literary dominance and authority? Do female writers imagine their writerly process – and its power dynamics -- differently from male authors? What authorial metaphors are available to women that are not available to men and vice versa? We also solicit papers on broader constructions of authorial identity as expressed through familial terms (literary kinship, genealogy and inheritance) that are thwarted, failing, alien, or otherwise complicated.. What does it mean when a writer chooses a foreign father as a literary parent, as when Chaucer chooses the works of Machaut and Boccaccio as literary models? And how might we understand Christine de Pizan’s turn to Dante over Jean de Meun in light of her Italian family origins yet French cultural upbringing? How, in short, does the real-life experience of having and being fathers and mothers impact authorial self-construction in the late medieval period?

Dorothy Kim