Saturday, September 2, 2023
CFP: IARHS Sponsored Session for Leeds International Medieval Congress 2024 1st-4th July: Outlaws and Crises, Outlaws in Crisis
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
IARHS Sponsored Sessions at the ICMS, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, USA, May 9-11, 2024
1. ECOMEDIEVAL ROBIN HOOD (VIRTUAL)
Even though the Robin Hood tradition is identified as medieval, most of the texts are post-medieval, hence medievalist. These are often situated against the background of natural environment, and thus Valerie Johnson coined the term “ecomedievalism” for “the application of ecocriticism to neomedieval texts.” Therefore, discussion of neomedievalist texts of popular culture, such as films and TV series about Robin Hood that relate more to the times when they were made than to the Middle Ages, is particularly welcome. The Robin Hood tradition contains different interpretations of the environment, such as the myth of unspoiled nature, but also nature as dangerous, with apocalypse as something imminent. This session invites such ecocritical readings of various neomedievalist outlaw texts that represent nature or the relationship of nature to culture. You can focus, for example, on:
- RH and greenwood in various cultural periods
- the culture/nature divide
- apocalyptic versions of RH narrative
2. OUTLAW ENVIRONMENTS (VIRTUAL)
A popular saying has it that “Robin Hood in greenwood stood” and a similar phenomenon can be found in other outlaw texts and traditions. Such outlaws as Fouke le Fitz Waryn, Twm Shon Catty, or the Slovak Janosik all functioned in a specific natural environment. It needs to be examined how important this background was for their respective legends. The landscape was presented as a romanticized version of nature or as wilderness that went well with what was believed to be the outlaws’ “natural” brutality and violence. This tradition is important to examine as it is present in various countries, not only English-speaking. We can suggest, among others, the following topics:
- outlaws against romanticized landscape
- violence of outlaws/wildness of nature
- the specificity of the landscape against which an outlaw is presented
- nature (e.g. its beauty) and nationalism in outlaw legends
Please send your abstract to: firstname.lastname@example.org, but an official proposal can only be made and accepted through (https://icms.confex.com/icms/2024/cfp.cgi). The deadline for proposals is Sept. 15, 2023.
Thursday, July 13, 2023
CFP: The 14th Biennial Conference of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies: “Robots, Androids, and Outlaws: How Machines and Bandits Disrupt Social Order," Oct. 18-21, 2023
Monday, February 6, 2023
Reviews from the Greenwood: Antha Cotten-Sprekelmeyer on Melissa Ridley Elmes and Kristin Bovaird-Abbo's Food and Feast in Premodern Outlaw Tales
Melissa Ridley Elmes and Kristin Bovaird-Abbo, eds., Food and Feasts in Premodern Outlaw Tales. Outlaws in Literature, History, and Culture 8. New York: Routledge, 2021. ISBN 978-0367751098. $48.95 Pb. 280 pp.
Reviewed by Antha Cotton-Spreckelmeyer
University of Kansas
Food and Feasts in Premodern Outlaw Tales examines a wide range of premodern works on outlawry, food, and feasts. The volume draws these seemingly disparate topics together in a coherent and succinct collection of essays that provide both introductory surveys and deep analysis of epics, ballads, plays and films. The book includes twelve chapters ranging from the Old English period to the modern era of movies and television. The research and scholarly apparatus of each essay is thorough, giving readers ample citations, annotations, discussion and bibliographies for further study and research.
The editors’ introduction (1-12) is helpful for both new and seasoned scholars in the field, providing an overview of outlawry in the premodern period, especially in the context of forest law and the relation of this jurisdiction to the procuring, preparing and consuming of foods. The stated focus of the collection is “the function of food and feasts in outlaw tales” with a view to understanding how food preparation and consumption facilitates development (or subversion) of community and fellowship in the outlaw world. This community ethic extends from parallels with Christian eucharistic practice to basic survival modes in the “Tales” surveyed.
The first essay in the collection by Eric R. Carlson on “Grendel’s Eucharist: An Outlaw’s Last Supper” (13-29) sets a precedent for linking outlaw repasts with Christian communion in identifying Beowulf’s villain as a marginalized figure exercising a perverse variation of Christian practice in the mead hall. The second essay on The Tale of Gamelyn by Reneé Ward (30-54) takes a similar tact with the power of food and communal feasting to identify and shape an outsider, and the third piece, creatively titled “Bread without Onions” authored by Sylvia Grove (55-74) contrasts Muslim and French culinary practice suggesting the French as gluttonous outliers, if not outlaws, in terms of food use and consumption.
Perhaps the most definitive chapters on outlawry, food, and feasts are the two pieces by Sherron Lux and Lorraine Kochanske Stock that address these topics in the context of the Robin Hood canon. In “Of Courtesy and Community in A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode,” (75-92) Lux shows how meals in the Geste demonstrate both villainous and aristocratic sides of Robin Hood’s character with the outlaw hosting “gastronomic” events in the forest from which other episodes of the story derive. Stock takes this theme a step further in “The Preparation and Consumption of Food as Signifiers of Class and Gender Identity in Selected Premodern Texts and Examples of the Robin Hood Cinematic Canon” (93-126) with her discussion of class and gender identity in the preparation and consumption of food. Stock provides valuable information on sources of Robin Hood films and the nature of cinematic medievalism in the context of foodways. Of particular note are Stock’s observations on the function of meals in diminishing or enhancing gendered identities of figures such as the Sheriff of Nottingham and Maid Marian.
The remaining essays in the volume expand these foundations with discussion of outlawry in broader contexts and locations. Marybeth Ruether-Wu (127-145) and Mark Truesdale (146-168) along with S. Melissa Winders and Sarah Harlan-Haughey (169-198) explore procurement of food in the hunting and poaching traditions of the greenwood where the providing and serving meals signals a powerful place at the table in the exercise of backcountry justice. The collection moves from the medieval to early modern era with Melissa Ridley Elmes’ (199-221) comparison of outlaws with noblemen in two of Shakespeare’s comedies to demonstrate the natural morality of the greenwood versus corruption of the court. The final chapters by Jason Hogue on Robin Hood’s Fishing (222-244) and Matt Williamson’s “Bread with Danger Purchased: Hunger, Plenty, and the Outlaw on the Early Modern Stage” (245-262) bring to light lesser known works of the outlaw tradition. Each study presents food as a vehicle for airing commercial and political concerns in a time of impending socioeconomic change.
Food and Feasts in Premodern Outlaw Tales is a well-planned and well-executed volume of original studies. It brings together important threads of outlaw and food traditions to inform readers of the broad scope and complexity of this engaging field of scholarship.