Volume 7 (2020)

Minority and Marginalised Experiences

Gwendolyne Knight – Editor’s Foreword

I am pleased to present the seventh edition of Ceræ: An Australasian Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. One of the most interesting and exciting parts of setting a theme for each issue is seeing the unique ways in which the authors engage with that theme. This has certainly been the case for this volume, focused around ‘minority and marginalised experiences,’ wherein the three articles focus on gender and sexuality, emotion, and identity.

Felipe E. Rojas explores the complex interplay of sexuality and gender performance in Lope de Vega’s El gallardo catalán. In particular, Rojas shows how Lope de Vega exploits the marginalized status of same-sex relationships to enhance conflict and tension – and, indeed, ambiguity – within El gallardo catalán. In her article, Emma Louise Barlow examines the emotive language of suicide in Dante’s Inferno.She argues that Dante’s representation of suicide exposes a ‘heterogenous yet shared experience of loss and despair’, and the narratives of those who had died by suicide reveal the profound personal marginalisation they experienced in life. The final article of the edition is Caroline Wilhelmsson’s study of Finland’s absence from the Swedish royal titulature, despite officially being a part of the Swedish kingdom from the twelfth century to the early nineteenth. Wilhelmsson examines not only the marginalisation of Finland within the Swedish kingdom, but also investigates historical ethnonyms. In this volume, I am also excited to present our first creative piece, wherein Jordan Church describes the wombat in the style of a Middle English bestiary. Ceræ welcomes creative and other short pieces (Varia) throughout the year. From our next volume onwards, we would also like to encourage postgraduate students and early career researchers based at Australasian institutions to send descriptions of their new or ongoing projects for inclusion in our Varia section. In addition to Varia, we continue to accept non-themed article submissions throughout the year.

I would like to express my appreciation for the committee and editorial team of Ceræ for their dedication throughout this year – a full update of a constitution by an international team is an undertaking under the best of circumstances, let alone during a pandemic! Every member of the committee worked incredibly hard to bring Ceræ through a complex year, and to make the constitution into the best version of the document that it could be. Deputy Editors Victoria Shirley and Matthew Cleary have been invaluable members of the editorial team, and I am grateful to have worked alongside them this year. We are indebted to the exemplary work of our Book Reviews Editor, Minjie Su, and our Deputy Book Review Editor, Patrick Huang. Thanks go as well to outgoing editor Christina Cleary for her guidance and advice during the transition period a year ago. Finally, many thanks to our contributors, peer reviewers, and publishers: we could not, of course, produce this journal without them. I am grateful to them, and to the committee and editorial team of Ceræ, to supporting and promoting the scholarship of postgraduate and early career researchers. Volume 7 marks Ceræ’s first edition as an independent publication, and I look forward to the journal’s future with eagerness and anticipation.

Gwendolyne Knight, Stockholm University

Themed Articles

Felipe E. Rojas – ‘Hemos visto un mal tan fiero’: Sexual Ambiguity in Lope de Vega’s El gallardo catalán (1599–1603)

Abstract: This article analyzes the reference to Ganymede in Lope de Vega’s El gallardo catalán [The Gallant Catalan] (1599–1603). Through close analysis of an ambiguous event that could have taken place in between scenes, this article examines how the characters in the play marginalize Clavela and Isabela’s presumed love affair. While Clavela is cross-dressed as man, the appearance of Ganymede, the cupbearer and lover of Jupiter, the text does not lose its controversial and punishable implication as both characters are sentenced to death which they inevitably escape as the truth comes out in the final scene of this Spanish comedia. Both readings of Clavela as a man or a woman leads the reader to the same conclusion: the relationship between Clavela/don Juan and Isabela would have been punishable under the sodomy laws of the seventeenth century. Despite the conventional happy ending, the potential love affair between these two characters is set within the confines of a German imperial naval ship. This article ends with an overview of the historical prominence of transgressive acts during nautical voyages across the sea. Ganymede is marginalized within Spanish early modern drama, while El gallardo catalán is a much-neglected text. This study demonstrates how this overlooked classical allusion and literary text contribute to the understanding and appreciation of early modern Spanish comedias.

Felipe E. Rojas, West Liberty University

Emma Louise Barlow – Emotional Minds and Bodies in the Suicide Narratives of Dante’s Inferno

Abstract: Suicide plays a dynamic role in both the narrative and structure of Dante’s Inferno, and yet, in accordance with there being no term for the act in European languages until the 1600s, the poet mentions it only euphemistically: Dido ‘slew herself for love’ (Inf. 5.61), Pier della Vigna describes suicide as a process in which ‘the ferocious soul deserts the body / after it has wrenched up its own roots’ (Inf. 13.94–95), and the anonymous Florentine suicide simply ‘made [his] house into [his] gallows’ (Inf. 13.151). It is thus unsurprising that the notion of mental health in connection with suicide is equally absent in explicit terms. Reading between the lines of Dante’s poetry, however, it becomes clear that the emotive language and embodied hybridity associated with the suicides within Dante’s oltremondo, and of Dante the pilgrim as he responds to their narratives, highlights a heterogeneous yet shared experience of loss and despair, mirroring contemporary understandings of mental health issues. Through an analysis of the emotive language associated with the narratives of a number of Dante’s suicides, and the hybrid embodiment of numerous suicides inscribed in Dante’s text, this paper hopes to explore the ways in which, even inadvertently, Dante reflects on the distancing of the suicides from the civic bodies of their communities, from their own physical bodies, and from the vital rationality of their human minds, and thus to investigate the ways in which the lack of emotional wellbeing experienced by the suicides forces them to the edges of society’s, and their own, consciousness.

Emma Louise Barlow, University of Technology, Sydney

Volume 7 Essay Prize Winner

Caroline Wilhelmsson – ‘King of Sweden, the Götar and the Wends’… What about the Finns?: Investigating Finland’s absence from Swedish royal titulature in medieval and Early Modern Sweden

Abstract: This article is about Swedish royal titulature and Finland’s absence from it. It is concerned with understanding why Finland, which was officially integrated into the Swedish kingdom in the thirteenth century, was never acknowledged in the short form of the Swedish royal title although others were, despite not being officially Swedish subjects. The article looks at the development of early medieval royal titles, including their meaning, and the context of their introduction and use. It then proposes several theories to try and address Finland’s lack of representation. These hypotheses require an investigation of alternative historical definitions of some of the ethnonyms used in royal titulature, and revaluate our understanding of Finland’s relationship with Sweden in the medieval and Early Modern periods. The study concludes that while a definite answer cannot be given, Finland’s native population might have been eclipsed from public view by the cultural Swedish elite. In addition, a historically negative reputation may have encouraged its exclusion from royal honours. It is also possible that Finland was included under a different terminology born out of the Early Modern Period’s reinterpretation of the past. Finally, evidence points to Finland being treated as its own entity separate from the rest of the kingdom.

Caroline Wilhelmsson, University of Aberdeen

Ceræ Guest Blog Post


Jordan Church – An Australian Bestiary: The Wombat

This poem about the wombat imitates the style of a medieval bestiary or Physiologus text.

Bestiaries sit uneasily with modern taxonomies of genre. They may appeal to modern readers as curiosities, but the form struggles to find a place in a world that divides rigidly between science and art. Neither approach to bestiaries – as science or as fantasy – fully accounts for medieval responses to bestiary texts. Since modern categories of reading prove inadequate for translating the bestiary, I attempt an inverse experiment: translating modern experience into the medieval.

Jordan Church, University of Sydney


Anastasija Ropa and Timothy Dawson, eds., The Horse in Premodern European Culture (Sunny Harrison)

Anastasija Ropa and Timothy Dawson, eds., The Horse in Premodern European Culture (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019). PDF, vii + 259 pp, £86.50, ISBN:9781501513787.

Reviewed by: Sunny Harrison, University of Leeds

Gareth Lloyd Evans, Men and Masculinities in the Sagas of Icelanders (Bob van Strijen)

Gareth Lloyd Evans, Men and Masculinities in the Sagas of Icelanders, Oxford English Monographs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019). Print, xv+170 pp., £55, ISBN: 9780198831242 (Hardcopy).

Reviewed by: Bob van Strijen, Independent scholar

Ármann Jakobsson and Miriam Mayburd, eds., Paranormal Encounters in Iceland 1150-1400 (Minjie Su)

Ármann Jakobsson and Miriam Mayburd, eds., Paranormal Encounters in Iceland 1150-1400. The Northern Medieval World (Boston/Berlin: Medieval Institute Publications, 2020). Print, vii + 438 pp, £110, ISBN: 978-1-58044-329-6 (Hardcover).

Reviewed by: Minjie Su, Linacre College, University of Oxford

Arvind Thomas, Piers Plowman and the Reinvention of Church Law in the Late Middle Ages (Matthew Cleary)

Arvind Thomas, Piers Plowman and the Reinvention of Church Law in the Late Middle Ages (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019). Print.xiv+267pp., $75, ISBN 9781487502461 (clothbound).

Reviewed by: Matthew Cleary, University of Edinburgh

Tracy Chapman Hamilton, Pleasure and Politics at the Court of France: The Artistic Patronage of Queen Marie of Brabant (1260–1321) (Michele Seah)

Tracy Chapman Hamilton, Pleasure and Politics at the Court of France: The Artistic Patronage of Queen Marie of Brabant (1260–1321) (London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2019). Print, 323 pp, €125, ISBN: 9781905375684.

Reviewed by: Michele Seah, University of Newcastle

Laurie Stras, Women and Music in Sixteenth-Century Ferrara (Sonja Maurer-Dass)

Laurie Stras, Women and Music in Sixteenth-Century Ferrara. New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018). Print. Xxiii + 391 pp., £75.00, ISBN: 9781107154070 (hardback).

Reviewed by: Sonja Maurer-Dass, The University of Western Ontario

Karl A.E. Enenkel, The Invention of the Emblem Book and the Transmission of Knowledge, ca. 1510–1610 (Jenny Davis Barnett)

Karl A.E. Enenkel, The Invention of the Emblem Book and the Transmission of Knowledge, ca. 1510–1610, Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History; Volume 295; Brill’s Studies on Art, Art History, and Intellectual History; Volume 36 (Leiden: Brill 2019). Print. 463pp., $229.00, ISBN: 9789004355255 (hardback).

Reviewed by: Jenny Davis Barnett, University of Queensland

Emma Gee, Mapping the Afterlife: From Homer to Dante (Michael Asher Hammett)

Emma Gee, Mapping the Afterlife: From Homer to Dante (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020). Online, $85, eISBN: 9780190670511.

Reviewed by: Michael Asher Hammett, Columbia University

Featured Image: BL MS Lansdowne 451 f.127 r.