Randy P. Schiff (English): “Arthurian Sovereignty and Animalized Violence: Terror and Territory in Ywain and Gawain”
Scholars at AK
Friday, December 10, 2010, 4 pm
With the UB Humanities Institute and riverrun
Exploring Ywain and Gawain, an anonymous Middle English adaptation of Chrétien de Troyes’ Yvain, I will analyze poetic intervention in the fraught politics of territorial sovereignty. Tracking Ywain’s ritual banning, as he and his animal companion pass through forest life and return to claim the sovereign exception, I will resist nationalist assumptions about social space that obscure pre-modern conceptions of territorial identity as fluid and discontinuous. I will investigate the strategic mapping of Chrétien’s allegory of elitist violence onto a militarized English North featuring unstable borders, with such regionalism echoed in political poems accompanying Ywain and Gawain in its manuscript. Finally, I will examine the Ywain-poet’s intensification of Chrétien’s link between courtly love and militarism, and will consider how the animalized Ywain’s carving out of his own territory anticipates current Empire’s disruptions of bounded national space.
Randy P. Schiff works on late-medieval British literature, with specialization in alliterative verse, Northern English and Southern Scottish culture, imperialism, nationalism, and literary history. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
This series transforms AK café into an “intellectual salon,” joining the University at Buffalo and the center of cultural life in the city. Scholars at AK features lectures by UB faculty who have been awarded Humanities Institute fellowships and provides an opportunity for the University and the Buffalo community to build connections through conversation.
Admission is free. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar are available.