A fascinating, effective, and discomfiting read on language policing form medieval manners to modern academic and social speech.
This essay by ‘Jeanne de Montbaston’ – aka medievalist Lucy Allen – on speech & language policing as it intersects with gender and difference is both a thought-provoking engagement with speech, language and canon, and a call to arms.
Among many other hard truths, she raises the possibility that:
‘it may in fact not be possible to design a non-misogynistic English degree’
precisely because of the history of literary production, scholarship, and assessment:
‘Say you’re an academic setting the questions for next summer’s final exam. There are obvious pitfalls (which people mostly try to avoid, but don’t always manage): Do you pick questions on Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower and John Lydgate, or Christine de Pizan, Marie de France and Julian of Norwich? Do you use quotations from Paul Strohm and Derek Pearsall or Jill Mann and Carolyn Dinshaw?’
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