Marisa Galvez 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. At Stanford, she currently teaches courses on medieval and Renaissance French literature and love lyric, as well as interdisciplinary upper level courses on the medieval imaginary in modern literature, film, and art.
Her recent book, Songbook: How Lyrics Became Poetry in Medieval Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2012), treats what poetry was before the emergence of the modern category, “poetry”: that is, how vernacular songbooks of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries shaped our modern understanding of poetry by establishing expectations of what is a poem, what is a poet, and what is lyric poetry itself. The first comparative study of songbooks, the book concerns three vernacular traditions—Occitan, Middle High German, and Castilian—and analyzes how the songbook emerged from its original performance context of oral publication, into a medium for preservation, and finally became a literary object that performs the interests of poets and readers.
She is currently working on a book entitled The Subject of Crusade: Penitential Poetics in Vernacular Lyric and Romance that examines how the crusader subject of vernacular literature sought to reconcile secular ideals about love and chivalry with crusade. This study places this literature in dialogue with new ideas about penance and confession that emerged from the second half of the twelfth century to the end of the thirteenth. Recent and forthcoming publications related to this project include "The Voice of the Unrepentant Crusader: 'Aler m'estuet' by the Châtelain d'Arras" (Voice and Voicelessness in Medieval Europe, ed. Irit Kleinman, Palgrave) that analyzes how a crusaders poet's unrepentant voice can be viewed as in tension with the confessional voice of pastoral literature, and "The Intersubjective Performance of Confession vs. Courtly Profession" (Performance and Theatricality in the MIddle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Markus Cruse, ACMRS) that compares penitential performativity and witnessing in courtly lyric and moral tales. "Jehan de Journi’s Disme de Penitanche and the Production of a Vernacular Confessional Text in Outremer" will appear in the volume Medieval Francophone Literary Culture Outside France (Brepols) and asks how a confessional text composed by a Cypriot Frank in the thirteenth century is shaped by the political and social contingencies of the Latin East.
Another monograph in progress concerns a transhistorical, interdisciplinary study of crystal as metaphor, material, and object. It asks how courtly texts that treat erotic desire and issues of gender subjectivity through crystal might shape a different kind of history of the gemstone. A recent article in Philological Quarterly, “Dark Transparencies: Crystal Poetics in Medieval Texts and Beyond,” presents a complex history of crystal that sees the physical effects of the mineral as operating in an experiential or theoretical sense.
Her multi-year Performing Trobar project seeks to cultivate, historicize, and compare the experience of troubadour lyrics in literary and performative modes. In exposing students and the Stanford community to the rich aural and verbal texture of the medieval world, Performing Trobar seeks to animate our engagement with medieval lyric both as a philological artifact and as a vernacular art that continues to be translated before various audiences around the world. Undergraduate and graduate courses on medieval lyric and a summer seminar taught in southern France through Stanford's BOSP program are integral components of Performing Trobar. She also currently serves on the Executive Committee for Division of Comparative Medieval Studies of the Modern Language Association and acts as Faculty Coordinator of the Theoretical Perspectives of the Middle Ages workshop at the Stanford Humanities Center.
Troubadours Art Ensemble: Stanford Visit from Stanford Arts Institute on Vimeo.