Performing the Middle Ages from Beowulf to Othello
Performing the Middle Ages from 'Beowulf' to 'Othello' traces the dialogic nature of the relationship between the Middle Ages and modernity. Arguing that modern beliefs in the alterity of the Middle Ages stem from the Middle Ages' own processes of self-representation, Johnston explores varieties of nostalgia through a wide selection of texts. This volume spans an extensive chronological period with a view to demonstrating how our notions of the medieval have been crucially informed by the past itself. The study is focused on works which stage that popular literary archetype - the nostalgic figure of the aristocratic warrior - and argues that it is this image that provides a structural model for so many modern perspectives on the Middle Ages. And yet, in the Middle Ages this model was being deconstructed as it was also being generated. By moving from the self-consciously archaic heroism of Beowulf to the scathing comment on chivalric narrative presented in Chaucer's 'Knight's Tale', Johnston's analysis offers an intriguing insight into the way medieval texts engage in a continual aesthetic and ideological critique of their own cultural moment. Using Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Alliterative Morte Arthure as examples of an incisive critique of the cult of subjectivity and of a highly self-conscious desire for tradition, Johnston extends his analysis to the early seventeenth century, and explores the ways in which Shakespeare's Othello brilliantly deconstructs the very concept of 'Renaissance Man'. With its interest in issues of subjectivity, textual performance, and the ideological self-awareness of medieval culture, Performing the Middle Ages provides a scholarly and compelling investigation into the Middle Ages' ability both to understand itself and to shape (post)modern notions of the medieval.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Beowulf and the Mask of Archaism
Performing Antisubjective Subjectivity
Effacing the Subject of Confession
3 other sections not shown
according actually Alliterative Morte Arthure amongst analysis Anglo-Saxon argue aristocratic audience Aztec Beowulf Cambridge Canterbury Canterbury Tales century Chaucer claim complex concept confessional conquest conquistadors contemporary Cortes Cortes's critical critique Desdemona discourse discussion early-modern Emelye epic epic's fiction forms Foucault Fourth Lateran Council Geatish genre gift Green Knight Greenblatt Hence Heoroweard hero heroic Hrothgar Hrothulf Hygd Hygd's Hygelac Iago Iago's ideological interpretation irony issue King Knight's Tale literary literature Lucayans medieval merely Middle Ages Middle English modern myth narrative narrator narrator's Niles notion occupatio Old English Old English poetry oral Othello Patterson penitential pentangle Perceval performance perspective play poem poem's poetry political position potential problem Quetzalcoatl readers reading Renaissance rhetorical ritual role romance sacrament scene seems self-conscious self-fashioning sense Shakespeare simply Sir Gawain Spaniards Spanish specific speech strategies structure subjectivity text's textual theory Theseus's tradition treachery University Press Venice warrior Wealhtheow words