UC Berkeley California Italian Studies Title Galiziella's Escape: Interconfessional Erotics and Love Between Knights in the Aspremont Tradition

Jason Jacobs
2013 unpublished
Though its relation to language is explicitly marked as amorous, philology seldom manages to be sexy. The discipline's painstaking pursuit of origins, originals, and concrete signs of textual transmission, while not without its thrills, is nevertheless a rather chaste business. It is perhaps then no surprise that an intellectual tradition so deeply invested in genealogy, legitimacy, and fidelity at an early moment in its history came to be allegorized as a marriage. 1 In Martianus Capella's De
more » ... ianus Capella's De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, the maiden Philologia is famously made an honest woman through a sanctioned union with a highly-disciplined Mercury. But for those of us whose blood is quickened rather than chilled by that which is messy, minor, oblique, and renegade in literary history, Michelle R. Warren's recent re-imagining of a Philology who "sleeps around" on a cross-dressing Mercury seems far more alluring, promising, and stimulating. 2 Warren's lusty Philology prompts us to reconsider literary history's extra pleasures, with attention not only to the implicit and explicit investments that determine our objects of study, but also to the excessive, illegitimate, and perverse ways in which texts in a tradition can relate to one another. Resisting the constraints of Philology's wedding vows, as it were, this essay examines the textual and narrative traces of a fugitive, unsanctioned, and improbable eroticism in order to do several things at once. First, I trace a theme of desire among knights-a desire inherent in the mutual regard of the practitioners of chivalry and heightened by the allure of religious difference-through a group of medieval narratives that includes the Chanson d'Aspremont and several of its various redactions, revisions, and adaptations. This analysis is then brought to bear on the literary history of the female knight, a figure with roots in the ancient tradition of the Amazons and a starring role in the romance-epic poems of the Italian Renaissance. 3 I focus on one warrior woman in particular-the feisty and beautiful Saracen warrior princess Galiziellawho figures in late-medieval Tuscan adaptations of Aspremont. Though she has in the past been of interest mainly to scholars in search of medieval models for the donne guerriere of the Italian 1 Bernard Cerquiglini has memorably characterized philology as "a bourgeois, paternalist, and hygienist system of thought about the family" that "cherishes filiation, tracks down adulterers, and is afraid of contamination": In Praise of the Variant: