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Romance was created in twelfth-century England and France for aristocratic patrons and audiences whose courtly lifestyle it idealized and celebrated; as the earliest genre to celebrate love as life’s goal, it was revolutionary. Initially translating Latin sources, romance authors innovatively combined pre-existing genres: classical epic’s historical drive was disrupted by the lyric’s focus on individual emotional experience, creating a new kind of narrative fiction. Where earlier heroes had sacrificed their lives fighting for great causes, the romance hero suffers and fights to prove his worthiness to a beloved, and wins marriage, wealth, and reputation as confirmation of his value. Here the fictional genre betrays its real-world ideological role: to justify the patriarchal, misogynistic, exploitative and exclusionary structures of aristocratic chivalric society, representing – literally romanticizing – its values as morally admirable. Within decades the romance took multiple paths: in the creation of pseudohistorical heroes and legendary pasts; in the limitless proliferation of fictional quests from King Arthur’s court; and in parody and critique, such as Chrétien de Troyes’s helplessly subservient Lancelot, or Marie de France’s assertive female protagonists. Finally, Thomas of Britain’s Tristan transforms the romance into tragedy, another new development in this most capacious and influential genre, forerunner of the novel.
Vernacular literature in English first developed in two separate iterations: the first ‘Old English’, the language brought to the island by Germanic invaders in the fifth century, and used (alongside Latin) in writing from as early as the seventh century; the second, after the hiatus brought about by the Norman Conquest, the twelfth-century re-emergence of ‘Early Middle English’, a non-standardized rendering of a fast-changing vernacular, dialectally highly variant, in constant textual contact with Latin and French. This chapter discusses each in turn, arguing that Old English literature, for all its astonishing precocity, variety, and brilliance, provides us with a fascinating study of a centuries-long, and eventually truncated, ‘beginning’: a vernacular literature sustained over time by a particular, and crucially coterminous, audience and patronage context (the royal or aristocratic court; the monastery) without ever reaching the point of being self-sustaining. In contrast, Early Middle English emerged spontaneously in the margins of multilingual manuscripts, and as an act of translation and adaptation without institutional support or aristocratic patronage; but it emerged into a different world, in which growing community literacy gave it an audience – potentially the whole population – that would drive its development ever forward.
The Squire of Low Degree is a romance preserved only in sixteenth-century print. Probably written around 1500, it survives complete in a 1560 printing by William Copland; two fragments of an earlier edition by Wynkyn de Worde, from around 1520, appear under the alternative title Undo your door. Besides this evidence of multiple editions, references to the tale crop up with some frequency over the next decades, indicating a notable degree of popularity and memorability. Finally, and importantly for present purposes, a much shorter version of the tale (170 lines to the complete version's 1,132) appears in the Percy Folio, a famous collection of medieval and later verse compiled in the 1640s.
As a self-conscious participant in the romance tradition – the Squire who is the work's hero wishes that he were ‘so bolde in chyvalry/As Syr Gawayne, or Syr Guy’ (lines 79–80) – the text has been regarded as something of a parody, even a pastiche, of the genre. On the surface it is a highly conventional exercise – a squire loves a princess; he is betrayed by a jealous steward; he is sent into exile to prove himself with deeds of chivalry for seven years and, on his triumphant return, is rewarded with marriage to his lady. But, as Nicola McDonald pointed out in a 2012 article, such a summary misses the most memorable and disturbing aspect of the text. The pivotal episode in the narrative is the Squire's attempt to say farewell to his lady the night before his departure: he comes to the door of her chamber and begs to be let in. She refuses, citing her chastity and devoted love. He is set upon by the treacherous steward with more than thirty men, and in the melée the steward is killed. His fellows disguise the steward's body as that of the Squire, disfiguring his face, and leave the corpse outside the door, while hustling the Squire off to prison. The princess rises naked from her bed to open the door; believing the corpse to be her lover, she embalms it and keeps it in her chamber, praying for him, kissing and clasping the remains, for seven ensuing years of mourning.
An impairment in recognizing distress is implicated in the development and severity of antisocial behavior. It has been hypothesized that a lack of attention to the eyes plays a role, but supporting evidence is limited. We developed a computerized training to improve emotion recognition in children and examined the role of eye gaze before and after training. Children referred into an intervention program to prevent antisocial outcomes completed an emotion recognition task with concurrent eye tracking. Those with emotion recognition impairments (n = 54, mean age: 8.72 years, 78% male) completed the training, while others (n = 38, mean age: 8.95 years, 84% male) continued with their usual interventions. Emotion recognition and eye gaze were reassessed in all children 8 weeks later. Impaired negative emotion recognition was significantly related to severity of behavioral problems at pretest. Children who completed the training significantly improved in emotion recognition; eye gaze did not contribute to impairment or improvement in emotion recognition. This study confirms the role of emotion recognition in severity of disruptive behavior and shows that a targeted intervention can quickly improve emotion impairments. The training works by improving children's ability to appraise emotional stimuli rather than by influencing their visual attention.
In July 2016 the conference ‘Conquest: 1016, 1066’ was held in Oxford, to mark the millennial anniversary of Cnut's conquest of England, and the 950th anniversary of the Norman Conquest. Speakers were invited and papers submitted from all disciplines, with the explicit aim of ‘doing comparative history’. The primary intention was simple, but surprisingly fresh: to compare the Danish with the Norman conquest – to compare their agents, origins and effects; their mechanics and logistics; their ideologies, hinterlands and legacies. The present volume had its genesis in the Oxford conference, but it has been independently shaped by much further, and separately commissioned, work. In the process, of course, necessary comparisons have multiplied: of England with its neighbours, of the effects of different conquests in different regions, and on different institutions, and in the varied spheres of cultural production and social experience. The wholly interconnected, European and Scandinavian, nature of eleventh-century England emerges at every turn, and provides comparisons which are, more importantly, essential components: of a fundamentally hybrid and multiple identity to ‘English’ politics, society and culture.
The aim of this volume is to offer a breadth of scope which amounts to an overview of England's eventful eleventh century, while each chapter nonetheless gives deep and close attention to its central questions, in many cases breaking new ground in the documentary evidence, or providing fresh synoptic readings which newly reveal the landscape. With this in mind, the first two parts consider in turn the high politics of the period, its greatest agents and institutions, and its economic, legal and bureaucratic practices; then its social, ideological and artistic phenomena: conquered England's cultural production, influence and connections. Finally, the third part explicitly turns outward, to place conquered and reconquered England in the context of its European, Scandinavian and insular neighbours.
The Norman Conquest has been much studied; the Danish conquest (with its lower case ‘c’) comparatively very little. Yet as many of our contributors suggest, the former may have been unimaginable without the latter; certainly, it would have taken thoroughly different forms. This volume aims to clarify and illuminate that relationship, and thereby to throw new light on eleventh-century history as a whole. Marked by multiple chronological, geographical and political caesurae which have separated scholars in their various departments, eleventh-century historiography is ripe to be reconstituted.