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UCSB Program in Medieval Studies

announces its

Medieval Studies Fall Colloquium

History, Politics, and the Medieval Romance

Friday, October 17, 1 to 4 p.m.
McCune Conference Room, 6th Floor HSSB


Scott Kleinman
Assistant Professor, Department of English, California State University, Northridge

What's in a Name? Local History and Romance in Eastern England

The tale of Havelok the Dane, best known from Geoffrey Gaimar's twelfth-century Estoire de Engleis and the late thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century Middle English Havelok the Dane, is extant in a number of forms, most of them preserved in historiographical literature. This paper suggests that the tale originated, not from popular tradition, as is commonly held, but from the participation of both historiography and romance in a single textual community, a body of materials in which the tale circulated. Tracing the interactions between these materials through the names of the characters, I argue that the story emerged from the chronicle tradition of the twelfth through fourteenth centuries in which writers attempted to establish an identity for an Anglo-Scandinavian East Anglia. Later, the historical anglicisation of the Anglo-Danes prompted revision of their historical place in England. Both the passing of the story from chronicle into romance and the continued manipulation of the tale by chroniclers narrating the origins of England reflect this absorption of the Anglo-Danes into English society.

Respondent: Mary Hancock (Anthropology and History)

Break (cookies, fruit: coffee and other bevs will be available at 1)

Richard Barton
Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Blurring the Boundaries of Romance and History: the Strange Case of Count David of Maine

In the context of a dispute with their neighbors during the 1130s, the canons of St Pierre de la Cour produced charters purportedly issued by a Count David of Maine. Since no such count existed in history, it is worth asking where and why the canons invented him. This paper offers several possible solutions before concluding that the best explanation involves a sense of the past that was derived both from "historical" sources and from the world of romance and chanson de geste. In particular, the Charlemagne cycle of the 12th century provides important symbolic points of contact between the real world of Maine in the 1130s and the more satisfying and, to the canons, the perhaps equally plausible world of Charlemagne and his knights.

Respondent: Christine Thomas (Religious Studies)

This event has been generously co-sponsored by the Medieval Studies Program, IHC, and the Department of English.


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