10-11 May 2013, Merton College, Oxford


‘Oh!, could you but see the carole go round,/And the people dancing gracefully/And making many a fine step/And many a beautiful turn on the fresh grass./There you would have seen flautists,/Minstrels and jongleurs,/Some of which sang rotrouenges,/Some others sang music from Lorraine/For the music that is made there/Is more beautiful than in any other region. […] Courtoisie then called to me:/“Dear friend, what are you doing over there?/Do the courteous thing, and come/And with us join/In the carole, if you please.”/Without further ado/I joined the carole,/And I did not need to be asked twice.’

Medieval texts show a strong concern for performance. In the Roman de la Rose, the narrator famously relates the carole dance, being drawn into the event he has been performing through his own narration: the performer performs performance, and becomes the performed. As a result, much recent scholarly attention has been directed towards issues of performance, resulting in publications on the construction of identity and gender, the performative aspects of literature, manuscripts, and the visual arts, as well as on the performance of a wide range of medieval musical repertoires.

Despite their shared interest in performance, post-modern approaches to any kind of medieval text are significantly different from those of the Middle Ages. While today’s scholarship places explicit emphasis on the realm of the performative, for medieval audiences performance was a given. One may, in fact, consider the notion of “performing texts” in the Middle Ages a tautology.

Current research by graduate students is brought together with established scholarship, and disciplinary and national borders are transgressed. Post-holders will respond to 20-minute papers given by graduate students/early career researchers, and there will be two international keynote papers: one on performance in late medieval English manuscripts, and one on the prophet Job as a musician. A conference lunch, reception, and concert will provide ample opportunity for interaction and academic exchange between participants. All of the conference papers, responses, and keynotes will be published in order to maximise the conference’s wider impact across the humanities.”

More details: http://www.mod-langs.ox.ac.uk/performingmedievaltext/