Editors: George W. Tuma, Professor of English, and Dinah Hazell, Independent Scholar
Hosted by the English Department, San Francisco State University


Volume 1 - September 2002

We are pleased to present the first volume of Medieval Forum. The articles cover a broad range of interests, experience and expression corresponding to a diverse readership, and we hope that they will spark a lively dialog. You may contact the authors directly, and/or you may submit your comments on the articles and the website to the editors for posting.


The Vulnerable Body of Havelok the Dane
Donna Crawford

The Middle English verse romance Havelok the Dane provides a complex evocation of the construction of English national identity. By the narrative’s end, the transformation of the Danish Havelok into an English king makes clear that national identity is malleable rather than fixed. One of the factors enabling this malleability is the poem’s representation of different figures of the human body. This article examines how Havelok the Dane manifests the power relations that structure metaphorical inscriptions, such as the body politic, by representing the vulnerability of the individual body.

Imperfect Heroes and the Consolations of Boethius
Peter F. Camarda

This paper examines an ambiguity in Chaucer’s vision of passionate love in The Knight’s Tale. The tale is usually seen as a courtly romance: the characters suffer in the name of a romantic, pagan love and the resolution appears to turn around the issue of marriage and physical consummation. This paper argues that Boethian ideas provide a counter-argument to the courtly perspective. For Boethius, passionate love is a false ideal, and Chaucer’s treatment of Arcite’s and Palamon’s romantic suffering, when examined closely, suggests a Boethian theme of renouncing carnal passion and trusting instead to “stable faith” in the Christian God.

The Warrener’s Tale
E. D. Schragg

Choosing the Haberdasher to tell the next tale, Harry Bailey fails to reestablish order among his drunken unruly pilgrims, whereupon the Prioress steps in to “govern ther oure hooste hadde lak.” The Warrener, “a portreiture of sangwynitee,” agrees to her suggestion that he tell a tale, but he explains, “rewde metres make my pencel,” and tells his fellow pilgrims, “ich wil yow telle a tale now in prose.” The tale is Chaucer’s apparent reworking of the matter of Monty Python, which “stynteth” abruptly when the Wife of Bath can no longer abide its preposterousness.

Resurrection: Representation v. Reality in a Miracle of St John of Beverley
Susan E. Wilson

A thirteenth-century miracle story relates the story of how a small boy is raised from death inside the church of St John at Beverley whilst a mystery play of Christ’s resurrection is being performed in the churchyard outside. The author establishes parallels between the original defining event, its representation in play, and God’s physical re-enactment in order to demonstrate the inadequacy of dramatic performance to transmit truth. At the same time, he interprets the miracle as signifying the whole Christian message from Abraham, to Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection.

Courtesy Books, Comedy, and the Merchant Masculinity
of Oxford Balliol College MS 354

Janine Rogers

This article examines courtesy books and comic texts found in a well-known commonplace book, Oxford Balliol College MS 354 (Richard Hill's book). I propose that the book as a whole may reflect ideologies of gender and class in the mercantile community of late medieval/early modern London, through which children (especially boys) may have obtained a social and moral education, transmitted in household books like Balliol 354. The article explores that didactic role of comic texts in the pedagogical process, suggesting that humorous material was not merely recreational in such miscellanies, but also educational.

God Our Mother: The Feminine Cosmology of Julian of Norwich
and Hildegard of Bingen

Jennifer Hudson

This paper explores the feminist implications of Julian of Norwich's and Hildegard of Bingen’s feminine cosmic visions. Both women revolutionize the imago Dei into one bearing feminine characteristics, maintain that the feminine aspects of divinity become the door to an intense union between God and humanity, and present images of a gender-balanced deity. Although Julian’s vision seems to place women and the feminine within a more positive context than Hildegard’s, both women extend their visions beyond misogynous and androcentric ideologies, thus shaping an image of divinity that affirms, heals, and unites women. Insofar as Julian and Hildegard arrive at portraits of a non-binary divinity and cosmos, these women’s visions could be considered feminist.

Submissions are now being invited and reviewed for Volume 4, scheduled for December 2004 with a submission deadline of 15 September 2004. Please see the submission guidelines if you would like to submit an article, book review or other item of interest to fellow medievalists. If you have any questions, please contact the editors.

Contributors retain the copyright to their works and should be contacted directly with reprint and distribution requests. All citations from works distributed on this website must be fully and accurately attributed.

Updated 9/30/02