The relationship between the Christianity of medieval culture and its most characteristic narrative, the romance, is complex and the modern reading of it is too often confused. Not only can it be difficult to negotiate the distant, sometimes alien concepts of religious cultures of past centuries in a modern, secular, multi-cultural society, but there is no straightforward Christian context of Middle English romance - or of medieval romance in general, although this volume focuses on the romances of England. Medieval audiences had apparently very different expectations and demands of their entertainment: some looking for, and evidently finding, moral exempla and analogues of biblical narratives, others secular, even sensational, entertainment of a type condemned by moralising voices.
The essays collected here show how the romances of medieval England engage with its Christian culture. Topics include the handling of material from pre-Christian cultures, classical and Celtic, the effect of the Crusades, the meaning of chivalry, and the place of women in pious romances. Case studies, including Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Malory's Morte Darthur, offer new readings and ideas for teaching romance to contemporary students. They do not present a single view of a complex situation, but demonstrate the importance of reading romances with an awareness of the knowledge and cultural capital represented by Christianity for its original writers and audiences.
Contributors: HELEN PHILLIPS, STEPHEN KNIGHT, PHILLIPA HARDMAN, MARIANNE AILES, RALUCA L. RADULESCU, CORINNE SAUNDERS, K.S. WHETTER, ANDREA HOPKINS, ROSALIND FIELD, DEREK BREWER, D. THOMAS HANKS, MICHELLE SWEENEY
Release date Australia
April 15th, 2010
Edited by Michelle Sweeney
Edited by Phillipa Hardman
Edited by Rosalind Field