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Blogging Kalamazoo 2021 - Session 15 - Universally Shared Themes, Topics, and Motifs in Eastern and Western Medieval Literature I

Monday, May 10, 2021 - 07:41

(Chosen because of the paper on Amazons.)

The organizing theme of the session is to examine topics that occur across cultures, or where different cultural perspectives may provide insight.

The Amazons in Medieval Arab and Western Travel Accounts - Sally Abed, Alexandria University

(This presenter has requested that their material not be shared on social media, alas. The topic is a comparison of the depiction of “Amazon tribes” in different literary traditions, rather than the depiction of individual “Amazonian women-warrrior” types, for which see, e.g., Kruk 1998.)

Metafictional Romance in the Medieval Orient and Occident - Padmini Sukumaran, Kean University

Presents the 1001 Nights as the example from the Orient. In addition to being central to the framing story, Scheherazade inserts herself into the narrative through the characters of the genies, as well as shaping the meta-narrative by the introduction of stories of happy romance, or of the betrayal of trust and unjust murders (her own framing story). Several embedded stories are analyzed for structure and how they contribute to Scheherazade’s overall purpose of manipulating her murderous husband’s attitude.

The next metafiction presented is the Tale of Genji, focusing on discussions of types of women and how they are desirable, as well as the different ways in which they express themselves in love letters. Types of women are then compared to types of painting, and to types of calligraphy. These motifs are brought together later in a discussion of storytelling and the relationship of illustrated romances to fact and reality.

The Occident themes are brought in via Yonec, in which the lady’s imagination creates her reality via storytelling. This section is very brief. The paper doesn’t directly pull together the various examples, although I can see the structural parallels around the motif of storytelling within stories, and the ways that storytelling empowers the female characters to shape their own narratives.

From Constantinople to Castilla and Avalon: Intericonicity, Warrior Saints, and Epic Arete in the Christianization of Britain and Spain - Inti Yanes-Hernandez, Dexter Southfield

Looks at parallels between the role of the King Arthur myth in the Christianization of Britain, and El Cid as a symbol during the Reconquista of Spain, via Byzantine mythic prototypes. [Note: the themes are interesting, but I’m not following the details very well.]

Major category: