courtly love

Next up: work in progress, #femfog


Currently connecting up:

  • The Maria de Ventadorn & Gui d’Uisel partimen
  • Some other medieval Occitan partimens & tensos
  • Questions: are rape jokes possible or permissible? Is there any way in which they can be positive and productive in educating and acting against rape (pseudo-)culture? And more immediately in preventing assault?
  • The K-Beauty débacle, feminism, academic feminism, and the point and public purpose of academia & academics
  • Having been obliged to think about the absurd foolish #femfog and #GYB bollocks, and how this feels… how shall I put it… intrusive?
  • Foolish and wise laughter and their social and ethical side: Plato (ideas triggered by talk on Friday), via Jean de Meun and Erasmus and Rabelais, looping back to medieval Occitania (and surrounds, i.e. Catalonia): Raimon Vidal de Besalú, Guilhem d’Aurenga, Socratic irony, true nobility of soul, and taking the piss (out of oneself and generally)
  • Satire, sincerity, play and its imaginative hypothetical space, and mesura (in whichever language, time, and culture; or as utopian ideal)
  • On which: it would be nice and proper if “PC” were to be returned to its original and longest-running meaning: the standard abbreviation for “Pillet-Carstens,” that is, the standard numbering system for the Troubadour lyric corpus (at least, for the 478 poets identified at that time, which has expanded since) and our industry standard since Alfred Pillet & Henry Carstens, Bibliographie der Troubadours. Schriften der Königsberger Gelehrten Gesellschaft, Sonderreihe, Band 3. (Halle: Niemeyer, 1933); for the record, this was one of these monumental two-generation-spanning works actually completed in 1931 and NOT a member of that other species of 1930s German philology. William P. Shepard’s classic 1934 Modern Language Notes review may be recommended as a splendid quick introduction in English.
  • So: #FeministHardcorePhilologySaysFogYou and #FogYB


Update: an idea about carnivalesque, consenting, courtly condoms

(not a contradiction in terms)

(just an idea)

Now, what follows may be totally naff, puerile, silly, etc. Be ye warned. Apologies in advance.

(again: just an idea)

How the idea came to be: in revising this post, this happened:



The Old Talks Series: “Le non-dit in ‘Flamenca’: language, courtliness, and languages of courtliness”

DRAFT – WORK IN PROGRESS [LAST UPDATE: 2014-10-09, changes to the end of section IV]

Because apparently it’s therapeutic to be more open about such things. You know, that work is a process, and that A Work rarely if ever emerges fully-formed ex nihilo. When made by regular humans, anyway. Though this does feel rather like the self-consciousness that smites one when one realises that one has accidentally left home having forgotten to put on a crucial item of clothing.

What follows bears many caveats.

  • there’s loads and loads and loads of text; most of it is from Flamenca
  • some formatting is clunky
  • while this piece is  partly about silence, the unspoken, the unspeakable, and gaps: there are also gaps here that are not of that sort
  • while this piece is partly about jokes, there are some elliptical or incompehensible parts that are not in fact very subtle or otherwise failed jokes
  • some of it is downright sketchy; some of which I’m still trying to figure out from archaic notebooks
  • it’s a work in progress

Further down, in case it’s all a bit much, I have taken the liberty of including one of my Favourite Comedy Videos Of All Time. It happens to be relevant, both to the caveats above and to the piece as a whole. I may add some more videos too, and hopefully they will be similarly appropriate-yet-inappropriate.

On which note, before I forget: here is a first, entirely appropriate video:

Le non-dit in Flamenca: language, courtliness, and languages of courtliness”
International Courtly Literature Society Triennial Congress
Montréal, 2010

Courtly Cultures on the Move (c): Languages of Courtliness


Le non-dit as the inexpressible and unexpressed corresponds to a feminine non-expression of literary silence, with familiar implications of non-existence. Luce Irigaray proposes one solution: “Mais si l’objet se mettait à parler?” (Speculum. De l’autre femme). This paper moves her question to a 13th-century context, looking at Flamenca’s contribution of alternatives or successors to a dominant, culturally-privileged highest mode of expression.

An earlier enquiry into the problem is offered by Ovid’s Heroides through its presentation of other sides, alternatives to masculine and monolithic expression: feminine first-person voice lyric; response by the Muse that instigates dialogue; and the dialogue writ large that is the contextualization of a single work within a larger œuvre. It is not by accident that the Heroides and the Occitan tenso are amongst the materials alluded to by and woven into the very fabric of Flamenca, a densely allusive super-romance that draws on several literary traditions and courtly cultures and deals with matters associated with the non-dit in a novel way.

Flamenca plays out the invention and reinvention of language, courtliness, and a language (Occitan) of courtliness: touching delicately on contemporary affairs, including linguistic politics. The narrative moves from wordless communication to a poetic composition that is the finding–or rather, the rediscovery–of poetic language; whilst playing with language through an ingenious derivative creativity that brings together feminine speech and the very lexis of cortesia itself, best exemplified in the word trobairitz, coined by women in dialogue.


The Old Talks Series: “The ‘Trobairitz’ and ‘Flamenca’ “

47th International Congress on Medieval Studies
University of Western Michigan, Kalamazoo
May 2012

Société Guilhem IX: Session 93, “Women and the Troubadours”


Women figure in the large majority of Troubadour poems, whether as the erotic focus, object of mystery, speaking voice, invoked saint or patroness. The Trobairitz corpus has gone from obscurity to possible overexposure in recent decades with the rise of feminism and interest in women’s studies. This panel invites scholars to take stock of the many places of women in Old Occitan studies. Contributions may consider literary, cultural, linguistic, musical, lexicographical, or biographical questions. Many women have contributed to Occitan studies, and this would be an opportunity to take account of their legacy, as well.


The paper pulls together two main threads associated with Flamenca scholarship.

The first is the word trobairitz and feminine trobar: further on which see the work of Angelika Rieger and other, and the theme of this panel.

The second is the double conundrum that is the attribution of authorship to this romance, and the approximation of its date of composition. Attempts at finding answers have moved from an earlier expectation of a single male author, as exemplified by Grimm (1930) and the “finding” of the clerc Bernardet; to Solterer and Grossweiner and a shift towards multiplicity, including composition by two or more hands; and work (Bynum, Kay, Vitz, and others) on the creative contributions of a range of participants in the poetic process: patrons, very hands-on patrons, collaborations, performers, adapters, and so on. To assist in this quest, we may add in Spearing on narratorless narrative; Jewers and Kay and others on play and playfulness and games; gender-ambiguity and gender-play in trobador lyric, and—another of today’s Guilhem IX topics, of course—the linguistic play of dialogic composition, as witness the tensos and partimens. (more…)

Courtly Love in “Flamenca”


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Also available with extra cheese.