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Fables of the Fabliaux, in Context and Theory


Canterbury Tales - The Miller - f. 34v detail - Robin with the Bagpype - early 1400s, Chaucer. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Date: Friday 5 September, 2014
Time: 9:30-4:30
Venue: 4th Floor Linkway Meeting Room, John Medley Building,The University of Melbourne

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The fabliaux of medieval France are brief verse tales with a sometimes humorous, and often questionable use of the sexual and the scatological towards anti-clerical ends. Charles Muscatine would notably figure the genre as “the most protean” within a broader Western tradition marked by a realist “preoccupation with the animal facts of life,” “an almost total incapacity for disgust or for pretension,” and a direct engagement “with something of life’s natural shape and vitality.” In doing so, Muscatine draws attention not only to the genre’s heritage in the beast epic, the fable, and satiric and comic poetry, but perhaps also to the ongoing compatibility of the fabliaux with a more contemporary outlook.

In what ways are the fabliaux relevant today? Under what forms can they be seen to persist, and to what ends? How does the genre persist today vis-a-vis its well documented heritage? This symposium invites us to examine the myriad futures of the fabliaux so as to better locate it with respect to its past, attending to the medieval genre as at once emerging from the ancient, and extended into the contemporary.

Speakers include:
Professor Stephen Knight FAHA (University of Melbourne)
Associate Professor Alessandra Petrina (University of Padova)
Dr Stephanie Downes (University of Melbourne)
Dr Kathryn Smithies (University of Melbourne)
Elliot Patsoura (University of Melbourne)

A light lunch (12-1pm) will be served.