Medieval Lyric: Another Direction
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Scott, C. (2020). Medieval Lyric: Another Direction. Critical Quarterly, 62 (4), 87-109. https://doi.org/10.1111/criq.12586
Criticism in the medieval lyric is in a long moment of transition. Seemingly gone are the days when anthologies of short medieval poetry, edited by venerable names such as Carleton Brown, Maxwell S. Luria and Richard L. Hoffman, would be a regular feature of publishers’ catalogues: since 1990, only two major anthologies of the medieval lyric have been published. Neither of their titles, notably, are content to leave the world ‘lyric’ by itself (Thomas G. Duncan, Medieval English Lyrics and Carols (2013), and John C. Hirsh, Medieval Lyric: Middle English Lyrics, Ballads, and Carols (2004)). Rosemary Greentree, introducing her 2001 annotated bibliography of the Middle English lyric and short poem, came to a conclusion which echoed T. S. Eliot’s sentiment, fifty years earlier, that the word ‘lyric’ is no longer of any practical use: ‘[m]ore information could be supplied [to the reader] by using “ME short poem” with a distinguishing adjective’.1 Ardis Butterfield’s 2015 influential ‘Why Medieval Lyric?’, then, which functions as my point of departure for this essay, intervenes at a time when the project of anthologising the medieval lyric appears to have hit something of a dead end, a symptom, perhaps, of a discomfort with regard to what precisely medieval lyric is and can be, and how examples of it might thus be grouped together and read.
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/criq.12586
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/317061
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