“Thinking Globally: Mandeville, Memory and Mappaemundi,” with John Wyatt Greenlee, forthcoming in The Medieval Globe 4.2.
This essay deals with questions medieval globalism, the blurring of disciplinary lines of investigation, and the importance of spatial texts in medieval European patterns of thought and memory.
It makes three separate, but interdependent, arguments. First, we claim that the text of Mandeville’s Travels, both in its material, manuscript form and in its descriptions of the world, functions as a mappamundi. Second, we show that this mapped world provides a mnemonic framework that populated set geographic loci with memorable data, connected by traceable pathways and broken into discrete spaces: a prefabricated cartographic memory palace. Third, we argue that global modes of thinking were even more embedded in medieval Europe than has previously been considered. The Travels offered the whole world as a vessel for use and memory, and – unlike more elite forms of memory practice – made it available much more broadly as one of the most popular works of its time; there are more than 300 extant manuscript versions of the text, cutting across cultural, linguistic, and class barriers. The text’s wide proliferation made the mapped world a tool for thinking and encouraged a sense of global ownership and utility that would have influenced later European colonialist mindsets.
“Paradoxes, Pibrac and Phalaris: Reading beyond Sidney’s Silence on the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre,” forthcoming in The Sidney Journal.
We credit the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre with deeply influencing the young Philip Sidney, yet never address Sidney’s unusual silence on the event.
Can we nonetheless attribute Sidney’s thinking on matters of tyranny and speech to his experience of the Massacre? Recognizing how Sidney uses the Greek figure Phalaris as a stand-in for the tyranny of the Massacre reveals his ongoing engagement with a vital problem: whether poetry effectively counters tyranny or, instead, inevitably serves the purposes of the tyrant. Through Astrophil and Stella, Lamon’s Tale, and A Defence of Poesie, Sidney’s indecisive grappling with this question via Phalaris confirms the importance of the Massacre to his political and poetic lives but casts recent interpretations of his letter to Elizabeth into doubt.
“Teaching de raptu meo: Chaucer, Chaumpaigne, and Consent in the Classroom,” Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 53.1 (2017) : 150-175.
Teaching Chaucer in 2017—with his attention to nuances of consent, his release from raptus by Cecily Chaumpaigne, and the current climate of survivor-narrative-centered activism and backlash—invites challenging, contentious discussions. The article explores difficulties incorporating the Chaumpaigne case within a syllabus and proposes a solution.
First, despite excellent articles by Cannon, Morrison and others, the relevant Chaumpaigne documents are not collected in any single resource appropriate for advanced high school students or introductory college courses. Second, much scholarly speculation about Chaumpaigne’s family, character, motives, and reproductive history with Chaucer anachronistically plasters modern rape culture narratives over this medieval case, narratives students increasingly recognize from media coverage of rape accusations. And finally, classroom discussion needs to balance the ultimately unresolvable nature of the Cecily case with sensitivity to students’ individual experiences, neither reinforcing survivors’ fears of being disbelieved nor buttressing concerns that accusations now equate to guilty verdicts. Trying the case in absentia often fails to facilitate engagement with Chaucer’s literary output. In response to these concerns, I use digital humanities to provide minimally mediated student access to the primary documents, context, and existing criticism. The resource and article navigate the emerging “believe the victim” heuristic, Chaumpaigne’s own retraction, pedagogical utility, and the ethics of biography.
Selected Non-Academic Writing:
“the lower frequencies,” Medium, 8/29/2018
An exercise in radically counting citations (inspired by Sara Ahmed) in the discussion around Avital Ronell, Judith Butler, Lisa Duggan, queer academia, power and consent. It centers and archives absent/silenced/anonymized graduate student voices on the issues of graduate student consent and queer discourse.
“Philomela on Campus,” Medium, 9/7/2017
Explanation of the implications for gender and credibility when the Department of Education under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos began altering guidance on Title IX and the preponderance of the evidence standard.