research projects


* Russell Ford and I are examining Baudelaire's lesbian poetry within the context of the history of sex.

* I am expanding my talk on the Yale Gower manuscript into an article.

* One project concentrates on the representation of violence in book three of Christine de Pizan's Cité des dames. What is of interest is how her depiction of Christian martyrdom contrasts with that of her male-authored source texts. She rewrote the saints’ legends in order to maintain a binary opposition where only men are capable of evil and women are the victims. I relate her gendering of this violence to the prologue, specifically the manner in which she grounds her authority in her female body.

* Another study focuses on Nietzsche's “Wir Philologen,” an essay intended for his collection Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen (Untimely Meditations), but which only survives in notes left unpublished in his lifetime. Given Nietzsche’s predilection for an aphoristic writing style, however, these notes are no less rich or representative of his work than his published pieces. I explore the specific linguistic and rhetorical means by which Nietzsche positions himself in opposition to his peers. Of particular interest to me is his play on the grammatical female gender of the word “philology” in German, which he exploits to paint himself as the only virile male among his eunuch colleagues.


* My current book project centers on a Parisian manuscript, or codex, from circa 1330 (ms Bn fr 60) that contains the three primary romances of antiquity, or medieval versions of the tales of Thebes and the house of Oedipus, the Trojan War, and Eneas. The study has two mutually informing lines of inquiry. First, I examine unique features of this codex and discuss how it contributes to the history of the medieval book. Second, I examine the ways in which this manuscript contributed to the calculated process of officially excluding women from succession to the French throne. My study takes into account the translatio imperii topos. This trope, used frequently to claim legitimacy for medieval kings, involved tracing one’s roots to Rome and Troy. The greatness of these bygone empires was considered to be transferred east to west via hereditary transmission. Manuscript 60, I postulate, utilized the translatio imperii topos both to legitimize the first ruler of the Valois branch of the Capetian dynastic line and also to help establish the exclusion of women from succession, which would later come to be known as the Salic Law. This “law” was a constructed justification for excluding women from consideration in succession to the royal throne of France, based falsely on a claim to returning to the practices of France’s ancestors, the Salian Franks. It also served to eliminate English contenders to the French throne, which was one of the contributing factors to the escalation of Anglo-French enmity that we call the Hundred Years War. Codex 60 was composed at what in retrospect was a key moment in the establishment of the Salic Law and, my study claims, helped to promote this agenda.

* My second book project is a Middle French-to-English translation with co-author Linda Burke.