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


Volume 3 - December 2003

We are pleased to present the third 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.


Merry Married Brothers: Wedded Friendship, Lovers’ Language and Male Matrimonials in Two Middle English Romances
John C. Ford

Both Athelston and Amis and Amiloun show idealized same-sex friendship through similar guises. In each, friendships are cemented through troth-plights that approach marriage vows in complexity and wording. In each, some character’s downfall is conceived due to jealousy of love or friendship with another. In each, that character’s doomed fate is overcome by the honesty of a loyal friend. There is a constant parallel in these tales between the politics of marriage and friendship. Friendship is ceremoniously consecrated, requires exclusive fidelity, and is destroyed by violation of its strictures. Here it is friendship, as opposed to warfare, religion or love, that leads to crisis and resolution. Through such a portrayal, these romances exemplify the courtly idealization of same-sex friendship.


Fracture and Containment in the Icelandic Skalds' Sagas
William Sayers

Icelandic biographies of tenth- and eleventh-century poets are superficially characterized by the alternation between a linear prose narrative and the poets’ extemporaneous verses, which are less a comment on events than their stimulus. Similarly divided and divisive is the vacillating character of the wordsmith, self-pitying, indecisive, confrontational. Not only are individual poets irresolute, the poetic personality is often divided, with two poets ostensibly contending over the same girl but in reality driven by the antagonistic exchange of versified insult. This article argues that a variety of fracturing effects are a means to the disempowerment and containment of socially destabilizing verse that were better composed in honor of a prince than spent in the vilification of community members or on the seduction of unmarried farmgirls.


Anger with God and Man: The Social Contexts of Melibee's Anger
John L. Griffith

Among modern critics, the tale of Melibee has more detractors than admirers. However, when we approach the tale as a tale of anger, we avoid measuring the success of the tale, as do many modern readings of the Melibee, strictly in terms of its generic inventiveness or logical coherence. Whether or not the tale ultimately provides explicit, practicable advice about either individual or political anger, Prudence is "successful" in that the anger which grips Melibee at the beginning of their dialogue has been modified by its end. The discourse of contradiction and multiple perspectives contributes directly to the management of Melibee’s anger: manipulating, modifying, redirecting. This essay examines the ways in which, through Prudence’s transformative dialogue, Chaucer explores the possibilities, as well as the limitations, of regulating anger by means of art and the manipulation of perspective.

Emaré’s Fabulous Robe: The Ambiguity of Power in a Late Medieval Romance
Christine Li-ju Tsai

This article examines Emaré (c. 1400), a late medieval romance consisting of incest and gift-giving motifs. It explores the social and psychological dimensions of the gift itself and the anthropological perspective of the gift-giving, interpreting the ambiguity of the cloth-gift in the context of the commonly perceived nature of the gift-giver Tergaunt, overshadowed by the Muslim deity Termagaunt, as an agent of supernatural malice toward humans. It investigates the domestic and political implications of both, attempting to gain insight into the response of the poem’s contemporary audience to this act of apparent largesse.


Book Review
John M. Hill

Richard Utz, Chaucer and the Discourse of German Philology: A History of Reception and an Annotated Bibliography of Studies 1793-1948.


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 12/08/03