Dr Sarah McNamer is Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies. Her primary interest is in the relation between literature and the history of emotion. Her book, Affective Meditation and the Invention of Medieval Compassion, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2010, received the “Book of the Year” award from the Conference on Christianity and Literature. Current projects include a book in progress, The Poetics of Emotion in Middle English Literature, and a critical edition and translation of the short Italian version of the pseudo-Bonaventuran Meditations on the Life of Christ from the unique manuscript likely to reflect the original version of this influential work. The latter will be published in the William and Katherine Devers Series on Dante and Medieval Italian Literature, University of Notre Dame Press, in the fall of 2017.
Dr. McNamer will be visiting the Centre for Medieval Studies from 15 to 30 June. The subject of her research during this time, “Did the Pearl-Poet Write at the Court of Edward III?,” is part of her current book project, Feeling by the Book: The Work of the Pearl-Poet in the History of Emotion. This book presents a new hypothesis for the place of the Pearl-Poet in history, locating him at the court of Edward III and building a case that he is likely to have served as chaplain and poet-mentor to royalty, specifically to Prince Lionel, Duke of Clarence. Within this provisional context, the book explores how each of the poet’s four works, Pearl, Patience, Cleanness, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, function as affective scripts, eliciting and shaping emotion in ways that served particular personal and political aims for the royal family in the late 1350s and early 1360s. This earlier dating for the poems, which builds on the work of Cooke, Fein, and Ingledew, raises broad questions about early English literary history. If the Pearl-Poet wrote ca. 1360, at the centre of the English court, how might this alter and enrich current understandings of the history of English literature?
Dr. McNamer looks forward to conversations about this subject at the Centre for Medieval Studies; she will be in residence from June 15-30. Graduate students and faculty should feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She will also deliver a paper related to this project, “God’s Hot Haste: The Power of Divine Disgust in Cleanness,” at the “Powerful Emotions/Emotions and Power” conference co-sponsored by the University of York and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, 28-29 June.