Full Volume (PDF)
Letter from the Editors
Table of Contents
An Interview with Professor Dimitra Kotoula
Conducted by Gwen Ellis & Stephanie Taylor, Smith College
The Tašrīḥ-e manṣūrī and Fünfbilderserie: East and West
Rebekah Glenn Ellis, Hampshire College
The five illustrations of the Tašrīḥ-e Manṣūrī, a fourteenth century Persian Galenic anatomy book, and the collection of medieval European images known as the Fünfbilderserie, are strikingly similar; this similarity without an obvious cause has been a mystery to scholars for over a century. I reopen this question first by reviewing the major theories of origin proposed by Sudhoff, O’Neill, and French, and then I illuminate the potential flaws in their theories by examining the text and context surrounding the images in further detail. In particular, I compare the Latin and Arabo-Persian labels of the Vatican Palat. Lat. 1110 bone man to the Tašrīḥ-e Manṣūrī’s, and conclude that although the images appear similar, on closer examination they are significantly different. The Tašrīḥ-e Manṣūrī shows 32 bones in the spinal column while the Vatican Palat. Lat. 1110 features only 27. However, the Tašrīḥ-e Manṣūrī does not illustrate the coccyx, whereas Vatican Palat. Lat. 1110 almost does. I suggest that the superficial similarities may be due to convergent evolution as opposed to a direct route of image transmission. However, if scholars find older Persian images or Byzantine leaves showing the five images, that could lend credence to theories of a shared common origin. A more thorough index of the Fünfbilderserie manuscripts would allow for better textual comparisons with Arabic and Persian medical texts, and a serious translation of the Tašrīḥ-e Manṣūrī would also be useful, as Persian medical language has been neglected in English scholarship.
Desde la Burla Hacía la Recuperación: Una Exploración del Habla de Negros a Través de las Edades
Rose A. Poku, Smith College
Este ensayo se enfoca en el habla de negros––una forma de escribir y hablar que representa la manera en que personas africanas y afrodescendientes han hablado en español. Esta forma de hablar inició en el siglo XV con la comienza de la trata de personas esclavizadas en Portugal y España, y ha viajado con poblaciones afrodescendientes a través del océano Atlántico hasta lugares como Cuba. Este artículo sigue la transmisión del habla de negros desde obras de teatro españolas del Siglo de Oro (XV-XVII) hasta poesía cubana del siglo XX. Específicamente, sostiene que las maneras en que escritores españoles utilizaron el habla de negros en sus obras eran ofensivas y degradantes a personas negras, pero en el siglo XX, hay una recuperación de esta forma de hablar por un poeta afrocubano, Nicolás Guillén. Su manera de rescatar el habla de negros muestra la validez en esta forma de hablar. Además, las traducciones de la poesía de Guillén por poeta afro-americano Langston Hughes, que traduce el habla de negros a un inglés afroamericano, también sostienen la importancia y el valor de la lengua negra.
An Interview with Greek Iconographer Panagiotis Markopoulos
Conducted & Prefaced by Gwen Ellis, Smith College
Locution begets Memory: Spiritual Impetus and the Cosmic Scope of Christian Salvation in The Dream of the Rood
Brooks Hayden Romedy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute
This analysis of the Old English poem The Dream of the Rood and its reflexes in material culture incorporates two major pursuits. The first is a reconstruction of a potential, contemporary impetus for religious experience perceived upon an encounter with any iteration of what I term the Rood-corpus; that is, the extant manifestations of a widespread poem, both temporally and spatially, known to us as The Dream of the Rood. This spiritual or religious experience is chiefly predicated on the Rood’s retention of memory from its personal involvement in and experience of Christ’s Crucifixion. My establishment of this Rood-corpus also provides a (to my knowledge) original hypothesis regarding the a priori archetype that begat our extant versions of the poem. The second pursuit seeks to place The Dream of the Rood and the Rood-corpus more broadly in the context of their contemporary and nascent Cross Legends, specifically those that deal with the life of the True Cross before Christ. This second endeavor establishes a grander, more cosmic scope of the Christian salvation story encapsulated within the poem and, following the explication of memory’s role in this body of literature, extends the roots of the Rood’s memory back into the earliest days of the Bible. The cumulative effect of this study is to illuminate the constellation of meaning present within and surrounding the Rood-corpus and establishing the evocative milieu in which it was encountered.
Exeter Book Riddle 29
Olivia Davis, Smith College
A translation of the Exeter Book’s Riddle 29. This creative translation goes beyond the literal, offering a more poetic interpretation that plays into and extends the themes and ideas of the original Old English version. Accompanying the riddle and its translation is a short introduction to the Exeter Book for historical context.
Book Review: Arvind Thomas: Piers Plowman and the Reinvention of Church Law in the Late Middle Ages
Gwen Ellis and Alexandra Domeshek, Smith College
Chivalry and Performance in Medicean Jousts of the 15th Century
Emma Iadanza, Vassar College
Jousts and other tournaments have existed in Europe since the early 1000s, but they began to take a different form in the Italian Renaissance, particularly in Florence during the fifteenth century. Rather than serving as demonstrations of military prowess, they become performative events that exhibited the patrons’ and competitors’ wealth as well as their devotion to the city. Descriptions of these tournaments tended to focus on the spectacular processions and visuals that were put on display during these occasions, rather than on the competitive portion of the events themselves. The joust of Giuliano de’ Medici in 1475 embodies these characteristics to the fullest, as reflected in the wealth of descriptions in chronicles, letters, and poems that it inspired. In turn, the florid nature of these accounts themselves reference the joust’s importance as a spectacle more than a military event, and the attitude to tournaments in Medicean Florence as a whole.
Within Reason’s Garden: Dante Alighieri and the Redefinition of Courtly Love
Katherine Rabogliatti, Wellesley College
Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy constitutes one of the most famous disavowals of courtly romance and courtly love in Western literary history. Although the entirety of Dante’s Divine Comedy can be read as a commentary on the nature of love, he prefigures later writers with the creation of the so-called anti-roman, a deliberately stereotypical and critical presentation of common tropes of courtly love in the narrative of the damned Francesca da Rimini in Inferno 5. It is in this canto, as well as Purgatorio 18, that he most clearly rebukes the contemporary notion of courtly love and redefines it in his own terms. Whereas courtly literature presents love as an overpowering storm that eclipses reason, Dante proposes that true love exists in harmony with free will and rational thought. He critiques the genre of courtly romance as a whole, while simultaneously reconceptualizing and offering his own definition of ‘love’ that aligns with Christian morality.
Masculinity, Power, and Death: Cleopatra in Boccaccio’s De Mulieribus Claris
Emily Aguilar, Bryn Mawr College
While the Roman Republic collapsed, Cleopatra VII ruled Egypt as the most powerful woman in the world. Nearly 1400 years later, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote De Mulieribus Claris to honor women who overcame the limitations of their sex with a virilis animus, a “manly spirit.” Cleopatra was a puzzle to Boccaccio: while she undeniably displayed the “manly” characteristics of intelligence and bravery, Boccaccio’s Roman sources portrayed her as an uncontrollable corrupting influence. In this paper I will explore Cleopatra’s masculinity and power in De Mulieribus Claris, specifically through her interactions with men. By comparing Boccaccio’s work to his classical sources and examining the differences between them, we discover how Boccaccio used Cleopatra’s story to articulate his views on women who were not only “masculine,” but too “masculine.” Because Boccaccio’s intended audience was educated men, his Cleopatra could not seem to justify female sexuality and ambition, lest she be seen as a threat to her male reader’s power. The result is a vilified and demeaned Cleopatra, who must be destroyed by honorable men.