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England during the Middle Ages was at the forefront of European antisemitism. It was in medieval Norwich that the notorious "blood libel" was first introduced when a resident accused the city's Jewish leaders of abducting and ritually murdering a local boy. England also enforced legislation demanding that Jews wear a badge of infamy, and in 1290, it became the first European nation to expel forcibly all of its Jewish residents. In The Accommodated Jew, Kathy Lavezzo rethinks the complex and contradictory relation between England’s rejection of "the Jew" and the centrality of Jews to classic English literature. Drawing on literary, historical, and cartographic texts, she charts an entangled Jewish imaginative presence in English culture. In a sweeping view that extends from the Anglo-Saxon period to the late seventeenth century, Lavezzo tracks how English writers from Bede to Milton imagine Jews via buildings—tombs, latrines and especially houses—that support fantasies of exile. Epitomizing this trope is the blood libel and its implication that Jews cannot be accommodated in England because of the anti-Christian violence they allegedly perform in their homes. In the Croxton Play of the Sacrament, Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, the Jewish house not only serves as a lethal trap but also as the site of an emerging bourgeoisie incompatible with Christian pieties. Lavezzo reveals the central place of "the Jew" in the slow process by which a Christian "nation of shopkeepers" negotiated their relationship to the urban capitalist sensibility they came to embrace and embody. In the book’s epilogue, she advances her inquiry into Victorian England and the relationship between Charles Dickens (whose Fagin is the second most infamous Jew in English literature after Shylock) and the Jewish couple that purchased his London home, Tavistock House, showing how far relations between gentiles and Jews in England had (and had not) evolved.

Staying Alive: A Survival Manual for the Liberal Arts
fiercely defends the liberal arts in and from an age of neoliberal
capital and techno-corporatization run amok, arguing that the public
university’s purpose is not vocational training, but rather the
cultivation of what Fradenburg calls “artfulness,” including the art of
making knowledge. In addition to sustained critical and creative
thinking, the humanities develop the mind’s capacities for real-time
improvisational communication and interpretation, without which we can
neither thrive nor survive. Humanist pedagogy and research use play,
experimentation and intersubjective exchange to foster forms of
artfulness critical to the future of our species. From perception to
reality-testing to concept-formation and logic, the arts and humanities
teach us to see, hear and respond more keenly, and to imagine, or
“model,” new futures and possibilities. Innovation of all kinds,
technological or artistic, depends on the enhancement of the skills
proper to staying alive.

Bringing together psychoanalysis,
neuroscience, animal behavioral research, biology & evolutionary
theory, and premodern literarature (from Virgil to Chaucer to
Shakespeare), Fradenburg offers a bracing polemic against the
technocrats of higher education and a vibrant new vision for the
humanities as both living art and new life science. Contrary to recent
polemics that simply urge the humanities to become more scientistic or
technology-focused, to demonstrate their utility or even trophy their
uselessness, Staying Alive does something remarkably different:
it argues for the humanism of a new scientific paradigm based on
complexity theory and holistic and ecological approaches to
knowledge-making.  It urges us to take the further step of realizing not
only that we can promote and enhance neuroplastic connectivity and
social-emotional cognition, but also that the humanities have always
already been doing so. “Nature always exceeds itself in its
expressivity” — which is to say that living is itself an art, and
artfulness is necessary for living: for adaptation and innovation, for
forging rich and varied relationships with other minds, bodies and
things, and thus, for thriving — whether in the boardroom or the art
gallery, the biology lab or the recording studio, the alley or the
playground, the book or the dream.

Staying Alive contains
companion essays by Donna Beth Ellard (Rice University), Ruth Evans
(Saint Louis University), Eileen A. Joy (BABEL Working Group), Julie
Orlemanski (University of Chicago), Daniel C. Remein (New York
University), and Michael D. Snediker (University of Houston).


A. Joy (BABEL Working Group): Prelude: Hands Off Our Jouissance: The
Collaborative Risk of a Shared Disorganization // Chapter 1: Driving
Education: A Crash Course // Fugue 1: Julie Orlemanski (University of
Chicago): An Army of Lovers // Chapter 2: Living the Liberal Arts: An
Argument for Embodied Learning Communities // Fugue 2: Daniel C. Remein
(New York University): Human-Tongued Basilisks // Chapter 3: Breathing
with Lacan’s Seminar X: Expression and Emergence // Fugue 3: Ruth Evans
(Saint Louis University): The Object Breath // Chapter 4: Life’s Reach:
Territory, Display, Ekphrasis // Fugue 4: Donna Beth Ellard (Rice
University): Ekphrastic Beowulf: Defying Death and Staying Alive in the Academy // Coda: Michael D. Snediker (University of Houston): Fuzzy Thinking


This book brings together new essays by leading cultural critics who have been influenced by the groundbreaking scholarship of Richard Helgerson. The original essays penned for this anthology evince the ongoing impact of Helgerson’s work in major critical debates including national identity, literary careerism, and studies of form. Analyzing not only early modern but also medieval literary texts, the pieces that comprise Essays in Memory of Richard Helgerson: Laureations respond to both Helgerson’s more famous scholarly works and the whole range of his critical corpus, from his earliest work on prodigality to his latest writings on mid-sixteenth century European poets. The interdisciplinary, transnational, and comparativist spirit of Helgerson’s criticism is reflected in the essays, as is his commitment to studies of multiple genres that nevertheless attend to the particularities of form. Contributors offer new interpretations of several of Shakespeare’s plays—Hamlet, I Henry IV, The Tempest, Coriolanus, Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear—and other dramas such as Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle, the anonymous drama The London Prodigal, and Stephen Greenblatt and John Mee’s contemporary play Cardenio. In keeping with Helgerson’s comparativist turn, the volume includes analyses of Joachim Du Bellay’s poetry and Donato Gianotti’s discussion of The Divine Comedy. Prose works featured in the volume encompass More’s Utopia and Isaac Walton’s The Compleat Angler. Spenser’s early poetry and the medieval romance Floris and Blanchflour also receive new readings.
Manuscript Cotton Nero A.x takes its designation from the unique cataloging system of seventeenth-century British antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton's library: busts of historical figures atop shelves provided the organizing principle, such that one found this particular codex under the bust of Roman Emperor Nero, on the top shelf, ten volumes over. (Another famous manuscript, containing Beowulf, is called Cotton Vitellius A.xv.) Cotton Nero A.x contains the only versions of the poems we now know as Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, generally agreed to have been composed sometime in the latter half of the fourteenth century-the time of Piers Plowman and Geoffrey Chaucer, though radically different from either. No one knows who the poet was. No one knows if more than one poet wrote some or all of the poems. Together, they present a stunning array of themes, allegories, and images that critics continue to puzzle over: Patience offers a psychologically complex rendering of the Old Testament story of Jonah and the whale; Cleanness explores its homiletic theme in carnal and spiritual terms with complexity, irony, and even humor; Pearl provides a dream allegory that pushes at the distinction between its earthly and heavenly meanings, challenging the very notion of metaphysical transcendence its form seems to point towards. Finally, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the most secular of the poems, is a sophisticated take on Arthurian legend that unfolds like a psychosexual mystery novel, with no easy solution in sight. All the poems are rendered in a difficult Middle English dialect and intricate alliterative form, which sometimes involves a complex rhyme scheme as well. As poet-medievalists, we bow before the poetic achievement of the works in Cotton Nero A.x in all their multi-faceted richness. This is not a translation, nor an interpretation. It is what might be called a trace. A response. A homework assignment from beyond the grave, for four students who should have known better. A dream we hope to dream.
The Sagas of Icelanders are enduring stories from Viking-age Iceland filled with love and romance, battles and feuds, tragedy and comedy. Yet these tales are little read today, even by lovers of literature. The culture and history of the people depicted in the Sagas are often unfamiliar to the modern reader, though the audience for whom the tales were intended would have had an intimate understanding of the material. This text introduces the modern reader to the daily lives and material culture of the Vikings. Topics covered include religion, housing, social customs, the settlement of disputes, and the early history of Iceland. Issues of dispute among scholars, such as the nature of settlement and the division of land, are addressed in the text.

“Provides information on the daily lives, culture, history, and society of the Icelanders in a clear and well-structured fashion that invites and informs modern readers. The 13 chapters are concise, and clearly laid out sections allow readers to review specific themes or read the work as a whole. Using both literary and archaeological sources, Short presents a detailed, succinct, and informative overview of Icelanders of the saga age as well as the sagas themselves. Readers are enticed into further exploration of Viking–age Iceland with the inclusion of detailed chapter notes and recommendations for further readings. This useful introduction to the Viking age is an essential companion to the medieval narratives.... The author’s in-depth research makes this a compelling, informative addition to almost any collection dealing with the sagas or the Viking age. Highly recommended. General and academic collections, all levels.”—Choice

“Informative...Short has done an excellent job...most interesting...I unhesitatingly recommend this book to anyone with even a shred of interest in the Viking era...faultless...tells a coherent story...this is a book stuffed full of interesting material for anyone interested in the sagas, the Viking age, the Icelandic Commonwealth, and early contact with the New World. Highly recommended”—Armed and Dangerous

“A warning to readers. You may find you need to hide your copy of this book...chapters on pretty much all aspects of daily life.... You don’t need to be a specialist in anthropology or history to understand...illustrated with numerous black and white photographs of Iceland and Icelandic artifacts, drawings and maps...enjoyed it very much. You’ve got to hand it to McFarland as they publish some fascinating books”—Green Man Review

“A perfect companion or an introduction to reading the sagas...very easy to read, and covers many topics in the life of the people in Iceland during those times...covers religion, laws, feuds, home life, and the settlement, among other topics...truly gives you an overview of what everyday life was like...[Short’s] research is flawless, and his sources are well-documented...bibliography is impressive...very well-indexed...entertaining, easy-to-read and very educational”—Lögberg-Heimskringla

“Well-structured, easily understandable and practical...digs deep into a wide range of archaeological and literary sources...presents readers with a realistic account of life in the saga age...excellent...thorough and accurate...interesting...especially helpful”—Iceland Review

“Riveting exploration...a solid addition”—Midwest Book Review

“Comprehensive but accessible history.... All aspects of society are covered including laws, conflict, domestic work, agriculture, gender roles, trade and production. Blending literature, legal codes, chronicles and archaeology and embellishing them with pictures, many of which he took himself. Short’s book is a perfect companion to the study of the Icelandic sagas”—Reference and Research Book News

Frederick Klaeber's Beowulf has long been the standard edition for study by students and advanced scholars alike. Its wide-ranging coverage of scholarship, its comprehensive philological aids, and its exceptionally thorough notes and glossary have ensured its continued use in spite of the fact that the book has remained largely unaltered since 1936. The fourth edition has been prepared with the aim of updating the scholarship while preserving the aspects of Klaeber's work that have made it useful to students of literature, linguists, historians, folklorists, manuscript specialists, archaeologists, and theorists of culture.

A revised Introduction and Commentary incorporates the vast store of scholarship on Beowulf that has appeared since 1950. It brings readers up to date on areas of scholarship that have been controversial since the last edition, including the construction of the unique manuscript and views on the poem's date and unity of composition. The lightly revised text incorporates the best textual criticism of the intervening years, and the expanded Commentary furnishes detailed bibliographic guidance to discussion of textual cruces, as well as to modern and contemporary critical concerns. Aids to pronunciation have been added to the text, and advances in the study of the poem's language are addressed throughout. Readers will find that the book remains recognizably Klaeber's work, but with altered and added features designed to render it as useful today as it has ever been.

It has been said that the difference between and language and a dialect is that a language is a dialect with an army. Both the act of translation and bilingualism are steeped in a tension between surrender and conquest, yielding conscious and unconscious effects on language. First published in 2002, Abdelfattah Kilito’s Thou Shall Not Speak My Language explores this tension in his address of the dynamics of literary influence and canon formation within the Arabic literary tradition. As one of the Arab world’s most original and provocative literary critics, Kilito challenges the reader to reexamine contemporary notions of translation, bilingualism, postcoloniality, and the discipline of comparative literature. Wail S. Hassan’s superb translation makes Thou Shalt Not Speak My Language available to an English audience for the first time, capturing the charm and elegance of the original in a chaste and seemingly effortless style.
At the center of Kilito’s work, is his insistence on the ethics of translation. He explores the effects of translation on the genres of poetry, narrative prose, and philosophy. Kilito highlights the problem of cultural translation as an interpretive process, and as an essential element of comparative literary studies. In close readings of al-Jahiz, Ibn Rushd, al-Saffar, and al-Shidyaq, among others, he traces the shifts in attitude toward language and translation from the centuries of Arab cultural ascendancy to the contemporary period, interrogating along the way how the dynamics of power mediate literary encounters across cultural, linguistic, and political lines.
Note: this is an abridged version of the book with references removed. The complete edition is available on this website.

 This fascinating study places multiple genres in dialogue and considers both medievalism and genre to be frameworks from which meaning can be produced. It explores works from a wide range of genres-children's and young adult, historical, cyberpunk, fantasy, science fiction, romance, and crime-and across multiple media-fiction, film, television, video games, and music. The range of media types and genres enable comparison, and the identification of overarching trends, while also allowing comparison of contrasting phenomena. As the first volume to explore the nexus of medievalism and genre across such a wide range of texts, this collection illustrates the fractured ideologies of contemporary popular culture. The Middle Ages are more usually, and often more prominently, aligned with conservative ideologies, for example around gender roles, but the Middle Ages can also be the site of resistance and progressive politics. Exploring the interplay of past and present, and the ways writers and readers work engage with them demonstrates the conscious processes of identity construction at work throughout Western popular culture. The collection also demonstrates that while scholars may have by-and-large abandoned the concept of accuracy when considering contemporary medievalisms, the Middle Ages are widely associated with authenticity, and the authenticity of identity, in the popular imagination; the idea of the real Middle Ages matters, even when historical realities do not. This book will be of interest to scholars of medievalism, popular culture, and genre. 

Over the past decade, scholars have vigorously reconsidered the history of Orientalism, and though Edward Said's hugely influential work remains a touchstone of the discussion, Karla Mallette notes, it can no longer be taken as the final word on Western perceptions of the Islamic East. The French and British Orientalisms that Said studied in particular were shaped by the French and British colonial projects in Muslim regions; nations that did not have such investments in the Middle East generated significantly different perceptions of Islamic and Arabic culture.

European Modernity and the Arab Mediterranean examines Orientalist philological scholarship of southern Europe produced between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth century. In Italy, Spain, and Malta, Mallette argues, a regional history of Arab occupation during the Middle Ages gave scholars a focus different from that of their northern European colleagues; in studying the Arab world, they were not so much looking on a distant and radically different history as seeking to reconstruct the past of their own nations. She demonstrates that in specific instances, Orientalists wrote their nations' Arab history as the origin of modern national identity, depicting Islamic thought not as exterior to European modernity but rather as formative of and central to it.

Joining comparative insights to the analytic strategies and historical genius of philology, Mallette ranges from the complex manuscript history of the Thousand and One Nights to the invention of the Maltese language and Spanish scholarship on Dante and Islam. Throughout, she reveals the profound influences Arab and Islamic traditions have had on the development of modern European culture. European Modernity and the Arab Mediterranean is an engaging study that sheds new light on the history of Orientalism, the future of philology, and the postcolonial Middle Ages.
 Note: this is an abridged version of the book with references removed.The complete edition is also available on this website.

From advertisements to amusement parks, themed restaurants, and Renaissance fairs twenty-first century popular culture is strewn with reimaginings of the Middle Ages. They are nowhere more prevalent, however, than in the films, television series, books, and video games of speculative genres: fantasy and science fiction. Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies and George R. R. Martin's multimedia Game of Thrones franchise are just two of the most widely known and successful fantasy conglomerates of recent decades. Medievalism has often been understood as a defining feature of fantasy, and as the antithesis of science fiction, but such constructs vastly underestimate the complexities of both genres and their interactions. "Medieval" has multiple meanings in fantasy and science fiction, which shift with genre convention, and which bring about their own changes as authors and audiences engage with what has gone before in the recent and deeper pasts. Earlier volumes have examined some of the ways in which contemporary popular culture re-imagines the Middle Ages, offering broad overviews, but none considers fantasy, science fiction, or the two together. The focused approach of this collection provides a directed pathway into the myriad medievalisms of modern popular culture. By engaging directly with genre(s), this book acknowledges that medievalist creative texts and practices do not occur in a vacuum, but are shaped by multiple cultural forces and concerns; medievalism is never just about the Middle Ages.

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