Astor Visiting Lecturer: Ardis Butterfield

poetry and music in medieval france book cover

We are delighted to welcome to Oxford Professor Ardis Butterfield (Yale University) as Astor Visiting Lecturer, in the week commencing 31 October. The Astor scheme enables distinguished academics based in the USA to visit Oxford, giving lectures and seminars. Prof. Butterfield will give a Medieval Studies Lecture on Monday 31 October, a manuscripts masterclass in the Bodleian Library, and will take part in seminars and discussions with students and early career researchers during her stay.

Ardis Butterfield is Marie Boroff Professor of English and (by courtesy) Professor of French and Music at Yale University. Her many published works investigate medieval literature and music across languages and national boundaries. Her books include Poetry and Music in Medieval France, and The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and the Nation in the Hundred Years War. She is currently completing a major new edition of medieval English lyrics.

Prof. Butterfield’s lecture is on Monday 31 October, 5.15pm in Lecture Theatre 2, English Faculty (St Cross Building): Do we mean lyric or song? Modern lyric theory in history

Is ‘lyric’ something that has always existed as a category of poetry or music, or has it been created through a process of study and academic debate from the nineteenth century onwards – a process that Virginia Jackson has called ‘lyricization’? If that’s the case, where does medieval lyric fit in?

This lecture will argue that medieval lyric is not on the edge of that debate, but at its centre. It does this by investigating the missing ingredient in many literary discussions of lyrics: their music. Thinking about the music for medieval lyrics (which in so many cases has not survived) can have an impact on modern theoretical discussions of poetry, requiring all of us to rethink our categories and assumptions.