Session Title

Affect and Identity in MS Ashmole 61

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, California State Univ.-Long Beach

Organizer Name

Ilan Mitchell-Smith

Organizer Affiliation

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, California State Univ.-Long Beach

Presider Name

Jillian K. Sutton

Presider Affiliation

California State Univ.-Long Beach

Paper Title 1

Closeted in Monk's Robes: Putting on Heterosexual Affect in Erle of Tolous?

Presenter 1 Name

B. Joy Ambler

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Dwight-Englewood School

Paper Title 2

The Artisanal Arts of Rhetoric in Ashmole 61

Presenter 2 Name

Alex Mueller

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Massachusetts-Boston

Paper Title 3

Forgiving Inferiors: Sir Orfeo, The Carpenter's Tools, and The Knight Who Forgave His Father's Slayer

Presenter 3 Name

Myra Seaman

Presenter 3 Affiliation

College of Charleston

Paper Title 4

The Sense of the Didactic: Between Ashmole 61 and Twentieth-Century Poetics

Presenter 4 Name

Daniel Remein

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Univ. of Massachusetts-Boston

Start Date

10-5-2018 10:00 AM

Session Location

Schneider 1325

Description

The past decade has suddenly brought to MS Ashmole 61—a Middle English verse miscellany—more readers than it has had at any point since its scribe, Rate, single-handedly produced it in the late fifteenth century. In 2008, TEAMS published George Shuffelton’s edition of the manuscript, and the collection has become a popular teaching tool, offering a representative sampling of saint’s lives, conduct texts, romances, devotional items, and other popular (largely anonymous) vernacular verse of the later Middle Ages. At the same time, the miscellany has inspired scholarly interpretations of its individual offerings, some of which (like The Carpenter’s Tools) are unique to this collection and were previously unedited, while others are versions of multiple-witness texts exhibiting abundant scribal intervention in Ashmole 61. Its particular identity as a late-medieval household book has also drawn attention.

Thus far, scholarly discussion of Ashmole 61 has occurred in conference sessions dedicated to methodology (manuscript study) or to a particular genre (romance or conduct texts) or theme (household management or chivalric violence). In focusing on discrete subjects and topics, these discussions have not addressed the ways the manuscript functions as a book. One way it does so is by engaging on multiple levels with questions of emotion and identity—as can be observed in its

  • strong female characters (Cleges’ wife, St. Margaret, Heurodys, the Four Daughters of God, the Good Wife, the Carpenter’s wife, and so on);
  • conduct orientation made explicit in its first booklet (enacted in the Isumbras/Eustace narratives as well as the more traditional conduct texts) and reappearing implicitly through the remaining 33 items;
  • models of forgiveness and mercy, in what we might call secular (Sir Corneus, Sir Cleges, Isumbras, King Edward & the Hermit, etc.) as well as religious contexts;
  • strategies for negotiating challenges of status and occupation (Isumbras, The conduct manuals,The Debate of the Carpenter’s Tools, The Dietary);
  • orientation toward family over individual concerns (as seen in at least 4 of its 5 romances, among them Sir Orfeo, The Earl of Tolous, and Isumbras);
  • Treatment of rage, “wodeness,” and emotional volatility (a number of romances, The Knight Who Forgave His Father’s Slayer, The Northern Passion, St. Margaret);
  • and lack of interest in the local historical-political matters generally shared by other household books of its type.

This session will bring together scholars working on the manuscript so they can address an audience of readers and teachers of Ashmole 61, rather than being the lone representatives of the manuscript’s modern readers on a given panel, as has been the case thus far. In so doing, the session will honor the tenth anniversary of the publication of the edition, Codex Ashmole 61, and will make the case for the value of such student-and-scholar-friendly editions by demonstrating the kinds of scholarship it has made possible.

Ilan Mitchell-Smith

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May 10th, 10:00 AM

Affect and Identity in MS Ashmole 61

Schneider 1325

The past decade has suddenly brought to MS Ashmole 61—a Middle English verse miscellany—more readers than it has had at any point since its scribe, Rate, single-handedly produced it in the late fifteenth century. In 2008, TEAMS published George Shuffelton’s edition of the manuscript, and the collection has become a popular teaching tool, offering a representative sampling of saint’s lives, conduct texts, romances, devotional items, and other popular (largely anonymous) vernacular verse of the later Middle Ages. At the same time, the miscellany has inspired scholarly interpretations of its individual offerings, some of which (like The Carpenter’s Tools) are unique to this collection and were previously unedited, while others are versions of multiple-witness texts exhibiting abundant scribal intervention in Ashmole 61. Its particular identity as a late-medieval household book has also drawn attention.

Thus far, scholarly discussion of Ashmole 61 has occurred in conference sessions dedicated to methodology (manuscript study) or to a particular genre (romance or conduct texts) or theme (household management or chivalric violence). In focusing on discrete subjects and topics, these discussions have not addressed the ways the manuscript functions as a book. One way it does so is by engaging on multiple levels with questions of emotion and identity—as can be observed in its

  • strong female characters (Cleges’ wife, St. Margaret, Heurodys, the Four Daughters of God, the Good Wife, the Carpenter’s wife, and so on);
  • conduct orientation made explicit in its first booklet (enacted in the Isumbras/Eustace narratives as well as the more traditional conduct texts) and reappearing implicitly through the remaining 33 items;
  • models of forgiveness and mercy, in what we might call secular (Sir Corneus, Sir Cleges, Isumbras, King Edward & the Hermit, etc.) as well as religious contexts;
  • strategies for negotiating challenges of status and occupation (Isumbras, The conduct manuals,The Debate of the Carpenter’s Tools, The Dietary);
  • orientation toward family over individual concerns (as seen in at least 4 of its 5 romances, among them Sir Orfeo, The Earl of Tolous, and Isumbras);
  • Treatment of rage, “wodeness,” and emotional volatility (a number of romances, The Knight Who Forgave His Father’s Slayer, The Northern Passion, St. Margaret);
  • and lack of interest in the local historical-political matters generally shared by other household books of its type.

This session will bring together scholars working on the manuscript so they can address an audience of readers and teachers of Ashmole 61, rather than being the lone representatives of the manuscript’s modern readers on a given panel, as has been the case thus far. In so doing, the session will honor the tenth anniversary of the publication of the edition, Codex Ashmole 61, and will make the case for the value of such student-and-scholar-friendly editions by demonstrating the kinds of scholarship it has made possible.

Ilan Mitchell-Smith