My free copy reached me in the post yesterday, which alerted me to the fact that this new volume on Machaut’s earliest collected works manuscript has just been published. What I wasn’t prepared for is quite how beautiful the book is: not only is there a lovely colour cover with a tournament scene from the Remede de Fortune, but the other illustrations inside the book (and there are lots of them!) are in colour too. Not only that, but the paper is heavy, and the whole thing has the sort of appearance (as a book) that makes it a fitting commentary on MS C (Paris, fr.1586), a luxury manuscript from the mid-fourteenth century.
While I know the price will be prohibitive for many, at only 85 EUR, this is a bargain for such a richly illustrated volume. And, as you’ll see from the table of contents, there are some great essays in here by prominent Machaut scholars in various disciplines. I haven’t yet read all of them (but will!), but I did read Anne Stone’s when the book was in press (and heard her give it as an amazingly compelling paper in Novacella in the summer of 2017) and I think it’s a really keen piece of deduction and reading that will make medievalists think more more about the relationship between making literary works and making books.
The jeu-parti is a lyric poem in which two individuals who usually name each other at the beginning of each stanza debate a ‘would you rather’-style question: would you rather see your lady naked from the waist up or from the waist down? would you rather have a husband who is great at jousting but is always away at tournaments or one who stays at home with you but is rubbish at a tourney? And so on. Some of the questions are racy, some silly, some fairly courtly, but the jeu-parti stages a medieval precursor of the rap battle for two poet-composers to thrash it out, complete with insults, ribbing, and boasting.
Less formally, the demande d’amour is, literally a Love Question, often similar to the sorts of dilemmas in the jeux-partis, but which is posed in prose and rather simpler in format. It clearly amused courtiers who wanted to play the game themselves rather than merely listen to two performers singing about it.
It has been assumed that the informal prose practice of Love Questions pre-dated the more formal practice of the jeu-parti, but the sources for the former are almost all later than the latter — with one exception: the Bodleian library manuscript Douce 308, which I’ve been working on for years now, has the oldest collection of Love Questions and some of the latest collections of jeux-partis. In this article, I examine what these can tell us about the relationship between these two kinds of courtly entertainment.
The lovely people at OUP have given me a link that I can post here on my blog which should take you to a free version of the text. The full reference is:
My chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy has just appeared.
This large book project is now out and my contribution forms chapter 7 and covers music and philosophy in the Middle Ages. OUP hasn’t given me any sort of access that I can post here, sadly, so I hope most of you have institutional access.
In short, the chapter outlines some of the varied relationships between music and philosophy in the Middle Ages. As one of the disciplines of the mathematical quadrivium, musica concerns issues of acoustics but the notation and ontology of music additionally relate to grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Furthermore, music is related to the boundaries between human and non-human animals and overlaps with, while not being completely subsumed by, sonic practices, something I cover in a subsection called ‘Unsound Studies’, which encapsulates some of my problems with Sound Studies’s treatment of historical materials!
Medieval music was also implicated in writings on ethics, which give evidence of music’s role in gendered and political identity formation, which I treat here a little bit. Finally, the chapter considers what sort of knowledge musical knowledge was in the Middle Ages and why modern thinking might struggle with various aspects of music’s relation to philosophy in this period.
Leach, Elizabeth Eva. ‘The Middle Ages.’ Chap. 7 In The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy, edited by Tomás McAuley, Nanette Nielsen, Jerrold Levinson, with Ariana Phillips-Hutton as Associate Editor, pp. 137-56. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.
A brief overview of how medieval vernacular songs might inform and be informed by the social contexts that produced and consumed them.
Podlecture 5: Songs, singers, and society
Suggested select reading on political and religiousorganisation and conflict
Coss, Peter. “The Origins and Diffusion of Chivalry.” In A Companion to Chivalry, edited by Robert W. Jones and Peter Coss. 7-38. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2019.
Galvez, Marisa. The Subject of Crusade: Lyric, Romance, and Materials, 1150-1500. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2020.
Harvey, Ruth E. “Joglars and the Professional Status of the Early Troubadours.” Medium Aevum 62 (1993): 221-41.
Lee, Charmaine. “Richard the Lionheart: The Background to Ja nus homs pris.” Chap. 8 In Literature of the Crusades, edited by Simon Thomas Parsons and Linda M. Paterson. 134-50. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2018.
O’Sullivan, Daniel E. Marian Devotion in Thirteenth-Century French Lyric. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.
Paterson, Linda M. The World of the Troubadours: Medieval Occitan Society, c.1100-c.1300. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Paterson, Linda. Singing the Crusades: French and Occitan Lyric Responses to the Crusading Movements, 1137-1336. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2018.
Reynolds, Susan. Fiefs and Vassals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
On gender, desire, and subjectivity
Bloch, R. Howard. Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Boynton, Susan, ‘Women’s Performance of the Lyric Before 1500’. In Medieval Woman’s Song. Anne L. Klinck and Anne Marie Rasmussen, eds., 47-65; 219-23. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002.
Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn. ‘Fictions of the Female Voice: The Women Troubadours’, Speculum, 67/4 (1992), 865-91.
Bruckner, Matilda, Laurie Shepard, and Sarah White, eds. and trans. Songs of the Women Troubadours. New York: Garland: 2000.
Coldwell, Maria V. ‘Jongleuresses and Trobairitz: Secular Musicians in Medieval France’. In Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150-1950. Jane Bowers and Judith Tick, eds., 39-61. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987.
Dell, Helen. Desire by Gender and Genre in Trouvère Song. Gallica. Vol. 10, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2008.
Doss-Quinby, Eglal, et al., eds. Songs of the Women Trouvères. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. [See especially the Introduction]
Gaunt, Simon. Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Gravdal, Kathryn. ‘Metaphor, Metonymy, and the Medieval Women Trobairitz’, Romanic Review, 83 (1992), 411-26.
Green, D. H. Women and Marriage in German Medieval Romance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Jackson, William E. Reinmar’s Women: A Study of the Woman’s Song (“Frauenlied” and “Frauenstrophe”) of Reinmar Der Alte. German Language and Literature Monographs. Vol. 9, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1981.
Kay, Sarah. “Desire and Subjectivity.” In The Troubadours: An Introduction, edited by Simon Gaunt and Sarah Kay. 212-27. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Paden, William D., ed. The Voice of the Trobairitz: Perspectives on the Women Troubadours. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989.
Peraino, Judith Ann. Listening to the Sirens: Musical Technologies of Queer Identity from Homer to Hedwig. Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 2005.
This page hosts the audio for the first of my six ‘podlectures’ on Vernacular Song for List A Compulsory Topics (final year exams) at Oxford, delivered in this form because of ongoing restrictions caused by the current pandemic. It also gives links to some further reading and things mentioned in the audio.
NB: These podlectures form only part of the Vernacular Song topic as taught at Oxford, which is significantly supplemented by additional teaching in tutorials that demand extensive reading, essays, and presentations.
Podlecture 1: The Troubadours 1
Good general reading
Akehurst, F. R. P. and Judith M. Davis, eds. A Handbook of the Troubadours. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
Gaunt, Simon and Sarah Kay, eds. The Troubadours: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Rosenberg, Samuel N., Margaret Switten, and Gérard Le Vot, eds. Songs of the Troubadours and Trouvères: An Anthology of Poems and Melodies. New York and London: Garland, 1998 [book contains a CD of some of the music].