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Medieval Lyric

Genres in Historical Context

Opens up not only a reconsideration of genre in medieval European lyric, this book also re-examines the notion of “genre” itself, showing that it should be considered as an historical phenomenon influenced by the cultures in which the lyrics arose.

Medieval genres of lyric poetry have long been accepted as self-evident categories that define the literature. Medieval Lyric reveals the importance of investigating the historicity of genres themselves as a means of coming to grips with the evolution of the poems they were meant to characterize and the cultures they attempted to serve.

An essential volume for medievalists and scholars of comparative literature, Medieval Lyric opens up a reconsideration of genre in medieval European lyric. Departing from a perspective that asks how medieval genres correspond with twentieth-century ideas of structure or with the evolution of poetry, this valuable collection argues that the development of genres should be considered as a historical phenomenon, embedded in a given culture and responsive to social and literary change.

An array of widely respected scholars draw from French, Italian, German, Latin, Catalan, Spanish, Galician-Portuguese, Arabic, and Hebrew literature to address questions about what genre could have meant to medieval poets and poet-musicians and what distortions result when modern ideas of genre are applied to medieval lyric. Essays explore the relations of medieval lyric genres, such as love songs and satires, to their historical contexts and consider genres in relation to rhetoric and music. Contributors also challenge the concept of genre itself, clarifying what we do when we read in genres and demonstrating the hazards of applying concepts of genre to an age that did not think in those terms.

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