Geneviève Young: 'The Text as Contested Territory in The Song Of The Albigensian Crusade'


FEB 11, 2021

Session: 18th February
Geneviève Young (University of Cambridge)
'The Text As Contested Territory in The Song of the Albigensian Crusade'

According to the philosopher and critic Jean-Luc Nancy, the word 'myth' has two distinct and opposing meanings: foundation and fiction. Few texts embody these two meanings so fully as the thirteenth-century Occitan epic, La Canso de la crozada, or Song of the Albigensian Crusade. A bipartite work whose two poets come from opposing camps of a conflict that Mark Gregory Pegg describes as 'one of the great pivotal moments in world history', the Canso raises questions related to naming and anonymity, finitude and memory, and the space between writing history and making mythologies. Just as its challenges the status of the epic heroes of the Old French tradition, the Canso's inclusion of lyric tropes widens the scope of epic as a genre. Using Nancy's La Communauté désœuvrée and Être singulier pluriel as a guide, this talk will explore mythmaking, mythic thinking, and temporalities in the Canso with a view to opening up new conversations about how this poem might change the way we think about the chansons de geste create or undermine communities through time.