MEMS Sundowner Programme

Over several evenings in September and October, our MEMS Sundowner series will showcase recent MEMS research by Masters students at UWA. Join us to hear papers from some of the Master of Medieval and Early Modern Studies students who completed their studies last year, and to toast their past and future success with wine and nibbles.

All of the Sundowner sessions will be held in Arts Lecture Room 6 at UWA (Arts Building, Ground Floor, G.62), commencing at 5.15pm and running until 6.45pm.

The Programme:

September 24th: Hugh Chevis & Sarah McKenna

Hugh Chevis
Inheritance strategies amongst families in the West Country woollen cloth industry in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

My aim was to study if and how families involved in the woollen textile industry in the West Country region of England maintained their commercial position through several centuries. I analysed the probate and other documents of 50 individuals (and over 450 beneficiaries).

I found there was considerable family continuity in the woollen textile industry in the West Country in the sixteenth to early eighteenth centuries. Continuity was achieved by the transfer of property to sons and other male heirs, but also in no small part by the active role of women and the extended family. This contrasts with London and perhaps other urban settings, where there was much less continuity and women, while active in business, were not as active in the wealthier trades or in managerial roles. These families were part of, or arose from, the peasant yeomanry to which the family based or domestic model applied. They developed a proto-industrial model to manage the textile industry, and achieved this, I hypothesize, by drawing upon the flexibility of the extended family or domestic model derived from their agricultural roots, rather than using traditional guild dominated models, or other business models used in urban industrial settings.

Sarah McKenna
The Prophetic Tradition of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Prophetiae Merlini in the Twelfth Century

Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote the Historia Regum Brittanniae, and included a set of prophecies attributed to the Welsh prophet Merlin. These prophecies related to political events in England occurring during the fifth century up until the twelfth century. To establish the authority for these prophecies Geoffrey of Monmouth copied the literary structures of several classical sources, such as Vergil’s Aeneid and from the Book of Daniel. This paper studies Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Prophetiae Merlini and how this twelfth-century historian used prophetic traditions to transmit the Welsh legend and prophecy to the Latin reading world.

October 8th: Jo Merrey & Michael Ovens

Jo Merrey
Shamefast and Shamefaced: Knights, Poverty and Shame in Late-Medieval English Romance.

In this paper I will explore the tensions inherent in the concepts of a chivalric ideal, poverty and shame in late medieval English romances through the lens of the knight-protagonists as either shamefast or shamefaced. For each of the knight-protagonists in the romances selected, their experiences of shame and poverty relate to and impact on their status or identity as knights. The appropriateness of the protagonists’ responses to their various situations provides a measure of attitudes towards the social, political and textual crises which occur when shame, poverty and chivalry collide.

Core texts: the Stanzaic Guy of Warwick, Sir Isumbras, Sir Amadace, Sir Cleges and Sir Launfal.

Michael Ovens
‘If thou wert sensible of courtesy’: Hal, Hotspur, and the English Gentleman in 1 Henry IV.

The combat between Hal and Hotspur at the end of Shakespeare’s 1 Henry IV can be read a symbolic encounter between two different world-views – but which world-views? In this paper I will argue that these characters do not represent simple binaries of old and new, medieval and renascent, broadsword and rapier. Rather, I will argue that Hal’s victory is a metaphor for the emergence of the social ideal of the English gentleman, and that Hotspur represents the past ideal of medieval English chivalry which, though praiseworthy, lacks the kind of ‘completeness’ required by the new social landscape of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

October 22nd: Alana Bennett & Brid Phillips

Alana Bennett
Music, Performance and ‘al maner menstraci’ in Medieval Romance.

Medieval romances are driven by performance: they are often recounted by first-person narrators and they feature characters whose musical performances influence the events of the narrative. My dissertation examined the place of musical performance and narrative performance within a range of Middle English, Old French, Anglo-Norman and Middle High German romances.

Bríd Phillips
The Locus Amoenus: Emotional Excess in the Ovidian Model

The locus amoenus or “pleasant place” is a topos popular from the classical Greek period through to the early Roman imperial period and is characterized by trees, shade, and cooling water. I explore how Ovid uses the space of the locus amoenus to disarm the reader with the beauty of the landscape before enacting a corruption that metamorphoses the body physically or psychologically. Having become, through Ovid, a site of extreme emotion, the locus amoenus was a place where desire and extremes of emotion could be discussed and explored by different writers across different periods. Use of the Ovidian locus amoenus allows Chaucer to examine extremes of emotions such as grief and desire which I explore in The Book of the Duchess and The Parliament of Fowls.