Middle English Romance and the Craft of Memory

October 2015
289 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Medieval Romance
ISBN: 9781843844174
Format: Hardback
Library eBook

Middle English Romance and the Craft of Memory

Jamie McKinstry

An examination of the depiction and function of memory in a variety of romances, including Troilus and Criseyde and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
In Middle English romances many memories are created, stored, forgotten, and rediscovered by both the characters and audience; such memory work is not, however, either simple or obvious. This study examines the ways in which recollection is achieved and sustained through physical, cognitive, and interpretative challenges. It uses examples such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Orfeo, and Emaré, alongside romances by Chaucer and Malory, to investigate the genre's reliance on individual and collective memorial processes. The author argues that a tale's objects, places, dreams, discoveries, disguises, prophecies, and dramatic ironies influence that romance's essential memory work, which relies as much on creativity as it does accuracy. He also explores the imaginative crafts of memory that are employed by romances themselves.

Dr Jamie McKinstry teaches in the Department of English Studies at Durham University, where he is a member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Memories of Romance
Medieval Memories: Sight, Thought, and Journey
Topography, Redaction, and Inheritance:The Initial Steps of Memory
Past Rituals and Present 'Forests': The Craft of Memory
Trusting Memory in Romance
Failed Memories: Forgetting, Lying, Obstructing
The Memory of Change: 'he that had hadde'
Unforgettable or (Un)fortunate Romance
Conclusions: Lessons in Romance Remembering


[E]xhaustively researched, highly original . . . [D]eserves praise for breaking new ground and for incorporating-generously, skillfully, and without any apparent bias against older or less "theoretical" scholarship-a vast array of secondary literature about the many texts that it studies. JOURNAL OF ENGLISH AND GERMANIC PHILOLOGY

Will appeal as much to those seeking a thematic survey of late-medieval romance themes as to those seeking a wide-ranging analysis of medieval understandings of memory. REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES

McKinstry tackles the ambitious scope of this book elegantly. His argument is extremely convincing, and his conclusion leaves the reader with an awareness of the possibilities available in romance studies through the lens of memory. COMITATUS

McKinstry explores connective, interpretive, structural, and symbolic functions of memory in medieval Romance. . . . [H]is research is excellent and he offers many fresh, innovative readings of canonical medieval Romances. Recommended. CHOICE

Author Bio

Tutor, Department of English Studies and Member, Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Durham University, UK.

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