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The Galician-Portuguese School, c. 1180-1360 About 1680 secular poems survive 420 religious poems dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Cantigas de Santa María.

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Presentation on theme: "The Galician-Portuguese School, c. 1180-1360 About 1680 secular poems survive 420 religious poems dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Cantigas de Santa María."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Galician-Portuguese School, c About 1680 secular poems survive 420 religious poems dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Cantigas de Santa María compiled and composed by King Alfonso X of Castile, ) For basic online account, see g=eng Illustration from one of the three main surviving collections or ‘songbooks’, the XIVc Cancioneiro da Ajuda What does the image tell us? (nobleman, dancing girl [soldadeira], minstrel [jogral]

2 Language Galician-Portuguese: Language of North-west Iberia Before clear differentiation of Portuguese and Galician (late XIVc) Kingdom of Portugal created 1139 Galician-Portuguese became one of the dominant lyric languages of Iberia (with Catalan, Arabic, Hebrew) Castilian not used for lyric poetry until 1360s

3 Principal secular modes/ genres Performance: music (NB ‘cantiga’ ‘song’) Very little music survives Debates over interpretation of the notation (common in medieval musicology) Arabic influence? For examples: sicadastipo.asp?t=or Secular lyric: three main categories Cantigas de amor (male voiced) Cantigas de amigo (female voiced) Cantigas de escarnio e de maldezir (satire and invective)

4 The cantiga de amor: performing the noble man’s voice Love as mental and physicial struggle: the rationalisation of passion a ‘civilising’ force, reflecting mankind’s desire to tame bodily desire, channel it to noble ends. expression of moral and spiritual nobility a literary and a social tradition – Relate to medical and philosophical beliefs and practices – Ideological function and effects: forms of selfhood, subjectivity (gendered, class-based) – Compare with the muwashshah (adab, representation of desire, etc) Courtliness, ‘courtly love’

5 What is ‘courtly love’? The Term: ‘amor cortés’ not found in Middle Ages (‘amor fino, puro’, ‘buen amor’, expression of ‘cortesía) XIXc scholarly invention Scholarly attempt to understand highly conventionalised and idealised depiction of love in European literature from XIc – XVIc and beyond (XIXc revival) Said to originate in early XIIc Provence (Occitan troubadours) Debate over Arabic origins, influence See Boase, Origins and Meaning of Courtly Love Illustration from a XVc manuscript of ‘Roman de la Rose’ (XIII – XIVc), a bestseilling narrative poem about courtly love. What can we learn from the image ?

6 Its conventions Expressed in lyric, prose fiction (e.g. chivalric romances), iconography See Deyermond (ten features of courtly love): – ‘courtliness’, qualities of courtier: gentility of manners, restraint, eloquence, refinement, etc – Source or cause of ‘nobility’ (birth, manners) Dwells on prolongation of desire not consummation – Eroticism, not carnal copulation (beasts, peasants) Outside of marriage: illicit, secret (socially wrong, morally/ spiritually right) Often frustrated (‘tragic’, ‘heroic’) – Not reciprocated, obstacle, death (Arthurian legends—Lancelot and Guinevere—parodied by Don Quijote) See also Burrus (on qualities of lover )

7 Example: Andreas Capellanus, De amore thors/andreas/de_amore.html Note especially: What is love? (physical, spiritual bond) Who is suited for love (class? age?) Effects of love? Importance of speech (love and rhetoric) Andreas’s irony, parody, misogynistic palinode

8 What courtly love does: a ‘performative discourse’ Love is ‘conventionalised’: codification limits general human experience to one social group Remember the significance of convention: ‘convention’ = tacit agreement a rigid code, or building blocks for individual and collective creativity? – Do not simply identify and label conventions: consider their specific function in particular instance Conventions allow for creative adaptation: define individual’s membership and place within group Conventions used to explore nature and boundaries of selfhood and relation to other

9 On the threshold: ‘Courtly love’ as liminal experience. Exists on boundaries between: – Body and mind (psychosomatic): Lovesickness: ‘inborn suffering’ caused by ‘excessive contemplation’ (Andreas Capellanus) – Love and hate (misogyny) – Individual freedom and social constraint – ‘reality’ and ‘fiction’ – God and Man (love as religion, religio amoris)

10 The threshold of language Love lyric also thematises the power and limits of language to express the inexpressible The highly rhetorical nature of the cantigas de amor Contrast between rational discourse and irrational experience (cantigas de amor: pun on ‘cuita’/ ‘cuidar’, pain/ to think) Poetry as rhetorical display See handout on poetics, poetic terminology See Alfonso X’s definition of the qualities of the poet (‘understanding’, inspiration, etc)

11 Thresholds of gender We will see three representations of woman (and men!): how are gender boundaries constructed and deconstructed? Cantigas de amor: cerebral, abstract: where is the beloved? Cantigas de amigo: woman and nature, innocence, tradition Cantigas de escarnio: the grotesque, masculine anxiety, loathing, incomprehension

12 Cantigas de amor and the rhetoric of desire: a feminist approach Toril Moi, ‘Desire in Language: Andreas Capellanus and the Controversy of Courtly Love’ (1986): ‘The language which constitutes the lover’s passion is curiously aggressive. His pleasure lies in his mastery of language …. By dominating the word, he gains a phallic power that contradicts his seemingly humble stance towards his lady …. He is both master and slave to his own discourse of desire’ (24) For other feminist approaches, see course bibliography


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