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Getting Emotional about Shame in Middle English Literature



Presenter: Dr Mary Flannery (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Time:
5.30pm-7.00pm
Date: Wednesday 14 August 2013
Venue: Woolley Common Room, The University of Sydney


A burning blush, a wave of self-loathing, a powerful urge to cringe--all of these are recognizable symptoms of shame.  Shame overlaps with and inspires a host of responses and emotions, from anger and annoyance to fear and frustration.  This was as much the case in the Middle Ages as it is today; indeed, one scholar has suggested that 'we might even call shame the primal medieval emotion, so ubiquitous and various are its implications'.  This paper endeavours to unpack some of the emotionality surrounding shame in medieval English literature by focusing on the concepts of shamefastness and shamelessness, as well as their close involvement in the construction of medieval gender.

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