What would it mean to wait for the Middle Ages? This talk is an exercise in a poetics of expectation; or, better yet, a poetics of attention, inwhich what we're looking at, what we're attending to, is also what we're waiting for. After all, the Middle Ages, like all the other kinds of middle age, are tough to isolate and quantify; their time repeatedly threatens to disrupt the time of criticism. This may be to ask, for example, what Marie Howe has in common with Tristan; or what the peasants of medieval pastoral share with Odysseus; but it is, above all, to ask what it means to have something in common, and how a past, no less than a future, is something that can all too easily be foreclosed.
Cary Howie is Assistant Professor of French Literature at Cornell University. He is the author of Claustrophilia: The Erotics of Enclosure in Medieval Literature (Palgrave, 2007).
CUNY Graduate Center (365 Fifth Ave. @ 34th St.)
Reception, with wine and cheese, follows.