Medieval Autographies: The I Of The Text

Paperback | November 15, 2012

byA. C. Spearing

not yet rated|write a review
In Medieval Autographies, A. C. Spearing develops a new engagement of narrative theory with medieval English first-person writing, focusing on the roles and functions of the “I” as a shifting textual phenomenon, not to be defined either as autobiographical or as the label of a fictional speaker or narrator. Spearing identifies and explores a previously unrecognized category of medieval English poetry, calling it "autography.” He describes this form as emerging in the mid-fourteenth century and consisting of extended nonlyrical writings in the first person, embracing prologues, authorial interventions in and commentaries on third-person narratives, and descendants of the dit, a genre of French medieval poetry. He argues that autography arose as a means of liberation from the requirement to tell stories with preordained conclusions and as a way of achieving a closer relation to lived experience, with all its unpredictability and inconsistencies. Autographies, he claims, are marked by a cluster of characteristics including a correspondence to the texture of life as it is experienced, a montage-like unpredictability of structure, and a concern with writing and textuality.
Beginning with what may be the earliest extended first-person narrative in Middle English, Winner and Waster, the book examines instances of the dit as discussed by French scholars, analyzes Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue as a textual performance, and devotes separate chapters to detailed readings of Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes prologue, his Complaint and Dialogue, and the witty first-person elements in Osbern Bokenham’s legends of saints. An afterword suggests possible further applications of the concept of autography, including discussion of the intermittent autographic commentaries on the narrative in Troilus and Criseyde and Capgrave’s Life of Saint Katherine.
 
"A deeply challenging and engaging book, Medieval Autographies: The ‘I’ of the Text should be required reading in every graduate course in medieval English literature. In wonderfully nuanced close readings of various late medieval texts, A. C. Spearing extends and further theorizes his earlier groundbreaking work in Textual Subjectivity. His proposal of ‘autography’ as a new way of conceptualizing medieval first-person writing should have profound bearing on how future scholars conceptualize, designate, and discuss ‘character,’ ‘intent,’ and ‘voice.’ “ —Peter W. Travis, Henry Winkley Professor of Anglo-Saxon and English Language and Literature, Dartmouth College
 
"A.C. Spearing dares us to think without anachronistic notions, and teaches us, by impressive example, how to become better readers of medieval French and English poetry." —Ad Putter, University of Bristol
 
"Professor Spearing proposes in this new study a nuanced and persuasive theoretical framework for interpreting late medieval first-person narratives without anachronistic dependency on autobiography and modern preoccupations with narrative coherency. Drawing on postmodern theory and French scholarship on the dit, Medieval Autographies promises to spark conversation that extends beyond the Medieval English circle to include French medievalists who will find a worthy cross-disciplinary discussion initiated and literary theorists who will discover a sorely understudied corpus whose relevance is made manifest." —Deborah McGrady, University of Virginia

Pricing and Purchase Info

$41.95

Ships within 3-5 weeks
Ships free on orders over $25

From the Publisher

In Medieval Autographies, A. C. Spearing develops a new engagement of narrative theory with medieval English first-person writing, focusing on the roles and functions of the “I” as a shifting textual phenomenon, not to be defined either as autobiographical or as the label of a fictional speaker or narrator. Spearing identifies and expl...

A. C. Spearing is the William R. Kenan Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

other books by A. C. Spearing

Medieval Autographies: The "I" of the Text
Medieval Autographies: The "I" of the Text

Kobo ebook|Nov 1 2012

$32.39 online$41.99list price(save 22%)
The Medieval Poet As Voyeur: MEDIEVAL POET AS VOYEUR
The Medieval Poet As Voyeur: MEDIEVAL POET AS VOYEUR

Hardcover|Feb 26 1993

$119.24 online$137.95list price(save 13%)
see all books by A. C. Spearing
Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:November 15, 2012Publisher:University Of Notre Dame PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0268017824

ISBN - 13:9780268017828

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of Medieval Autographies: The I Of The Text

Reviews

Extra Content

Editorial Reviews

“On the heels of Textual Subjectivity . . . A. C. Spearing once more provides the leverage for medievalists to remain relevant. Added to his ‘supergenre,’ the medieval category of ‘autography,’ defined as ‘extended, non-lyrical, fictional writings in and of the first person’ takes up center stage in Medieval Autographies: The “I” of the Text.” —Sixteenth Century Journal