Prof. Marisa Galvez (French and Italian, Stanford) will present an article titled “Unthought Medievalism” and discuss new case studies for a larger book project provisionally titled The Premodern Global South. Leonardo Velloso-Lyons (Comparative Literature, Stanford) will offer a response, followed by questions and an open discussion of Prof. Galvez’s work.
Here is what Prof. Galvez has to say about the project:
We know that "the Middle Ages" as a category has produced troubling notions of that period in politics (Wallace et al). Much less often noticed, however, is how contemporary artists and poets, especially those from post-colonial/Global South contexts, have translated and adapted medieval texts to craft new forms of poetics and world literature. “Unthought Medievalism” examines how Western writers and artists as translators inhabit medieval forms as “lived” rather than “thought knowledges” (Santos 2018) and translate that experience through other media. They might be medievalists who create new genres or forms of literary translation (Ezra Pound, Henry Adams, Gérard Zuchetto), architects (E. Jay Jones), or avant-garde poets (Augusto de Campos). This paper is part of a book in progress, The Premodern Global South, in which I examine how creative practices of medievalism constitute different ways of knowing: they build new decolonized pluriversal epistemologies rooted in creative processes of situated and embodied knowledge, and foreground the artisanal task of knowing with rather than of medieval culture.
I will begin by discussing how we can think about Western concepts of periodization within the discourse of the Global South: how can we avoid making the premodern subaltern or colonized or positing discourses of world order that create “Others” in a closed historical epoch? “Unthought medievalism” is one approach to this problem. We sense the precarity of mobile yet living processes of translation and relationality, a situational condition essential to producing the artisanal and experiential knowledges of the Global South. I will discuss the Brazilian poet Augusto de Campos’ semiotic concepts of “concretude” and “verbivocovisual” as they emerge from his translation of medieval texts, and the Martinican poet-critic Édouard Glissant’s concept of “intermingled poetics” (poétique entrêmêlée). Both de Campos and Glissant are anthologizers and translators: their craft of these combined activities are crucial for building their assembled poetic worlds that are open to the practices described by Global South and postcolonial theorists (e.g. Santos and Chakrabarty); they invoke the premodern world to imagine a futurity otherwise.
Marisa Galvez is Associate Professor of French and Italian at Stanford University. She specializes in the literature of the Middle Ages in France and Western Europe, especially the poetry and narrative literature written in Occitan and Old French. Her areas of interest include the troubadours, vernacular poetics, the intersection of performance and literary cultures, and the critical history of medieval studies as a discipline. She is the author of two books, both published by the University of Chicago Press: Songbook: How Lyrics Became Poetry in Medieval Europe (2012) and most recently The Subject of Crusade: Lyric Romance, and Materials, 1150-1500 (2020).
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