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Queer Love in the Middle Ages (New Middle…

Queer Love in the Middle Ages (New Middle Ages)

by Anna Klosowka

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Recently added bybeing_blunt, karl.steel, LadyByron



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I want to like this book more than I do. I like its thought quite a bit (for a good assessment of its positive qualities, see a review here. Here's another moment that stands out nicely:A scholarly reading of a medieval text needs to be accurate, erudite, establish new connections, and bring out aspects that other readers have overlooked: for instance, symbolic capital, political relevance, representation of women, or queerness. Pleasure is associated with pedagogy, where it is defined as other people's pleasure: to entice the students to read medieval texts, we need to think of their pleasure, or pain (that, too, is valued). It may be reassuring to participate in a collective intellectual endeavor where most practioners' pleasure is furtive or, sometimes, defined as finding an obscure reference. Pleasure is embarrassing and personal. The erudition required by our texts and the field's more than usual respect for tradition, may provide a safe refuge from it. Yet, it seems that at our most assertive, when we publicly embrace our fetish and are able to speak of our pleasure in little known facts, we are less pathetic

But the artifact itself needed to be edited much more thoroughly: it's thick with typos, it lacks illustrations where it absolutely needs them, it ends much too abruptly (and too soon! I know academic economics are terrible, but the book just seemed too short). Worst of all for me is the circularity of the chapter order, as this would frustrate any quick trips into the book. While profs might feel compelled to read the whole thing, grad students won't, and since they won't be able to track her argument about 14th-c. commentary on Augustine's treatment of castration, or the fascinating correlation she draws between manuscript reuse and cross-dressing, they won't use the book. More's the pity.

I should say, however, that when Kłosowska is doing close-reading, particularly of Yde et Olive, Éneas, and Lanval, she can't be beat. This is a very medievalist thing to say, but it's clear that her training is rock solid. ( )
  karl.steel | Apr 2, 2013 |
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