OMS Lecture: Prof. Ardis Butterfield (Yale), ‘Do We Mean Lyric or Song?’

When: Monday 31 October, 5.15pm

Where: Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty (St Cross Building)

What: Michaelmas Medieval Studies Lecture by Professor Ardis Butterfield (Yale University) as Astor Visiting Lecturer

Ardis Butterfield is Marie Boroff Professor of English and (by courtesy) Professor of French and Music at Yale University. Her many published works investigate medieval literature and music across languages and national boundaries. Her books include Poetry and Music in Medieval France, and The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and the Nation in the Hundred Years War. She is currently completing a major new edition of medieval English lyrics.

Do we mean lyric or song? Modern lyric theory in history

 Is ‘lyric’ something that has always existed as a category of poetry or music, or has it been created through a process of study and academic debate from the nineteenth century onwards – a process that Virginia Jackson has called ‘lyricization’? If that’s the case, where does medieval lyric fit in?

This lecture argued that medieval lyric is not on the edge of that debate, but at its centre. It does this by investigating the missing ingredient in many literary discussions of lyrics: their music. Thinking about the music for medieval lyrics (which in so many cases has not survived) can have an impact on modern theoretical discussions of poetry, requiring all of us to rethink our categories and assumptions.

Featured manuscripts (in order of appearance):
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson C. 670, f.148v
British Library, Harley MS 978, f.11v
British Library, Arundel MS 248, f.154r
Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 302, f.24r (John Audelay’s book)
Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Advocates MS 18.7.21,ff. 116r-121v (John of Grimestone’s preaching book)

Professor Butterfield also gave a manuscripts masterclass in the Weston Library’s Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, 2–4pm on Tuesday 1 November: ‘Manuscripts of medieval lyric and song in the Bodleian Library’

3 Replies to “OMS Lecture: Prof. Ardis Butterfield (Yale), ‘Do We Mean Lyric or Song?’”

  1. Hello, will this lecture be recorded? I am on my year abroad so am not in Oxford at the moment but it sounds really interesting. Many thanks

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