Revealing New Perspectives

Studies in Honor of Stephen G. Nichols

by Kevin Brownlee (Volume editor) Marina S. Brownlee (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection XVI, 346 Pages


This volume of studies in honor of Stephen G. Nichols by colleagues, friends, and students is called Revealing New Perspectives because that is what his career exemplifies. As both the verb and adjective forms suggest, Steve has undeniably changed the course of medieval studies in ways which have had a global impact that continues to be profound.
He has always been committed to not only contextualizing the intellectual and artistic production of the past in which a work was created, but to considering it also according to the current theoretical optics of our time, since each age has its own set of aesthetic and cultural realities and expectations.
The contributions to this volume by sixteen distinguished medievalists are divided into the five sections of "Visuals," "Lyric," "Philology," "Alterity," and "Rewritings." While it can, of course, be argued that each essay partakes of more than one of these categories, they have been globally organized into the category that predominates in their articulation.
"The breadth of topic and learning in this celebratory volume are a fitting tribute to the remarkable Stephen Nichols. It would be difficult to imagine a more distinguished international array of colleagues, all writing in warm admiration of Nichols’s pioneering influence in manuscript studies, the visual arts, narrative, drama, and lyric in Italian, Iberian, German, Byzantine Greek, and Middle English as well as French. Kevin Brownlee and Marina S. Brownlee have assembled a vital testament to the ‘pathos and passion of philology’ in its most contemporary and medieval senses."
—Ardis Butterfield, John M. Schiff Professor of English; Professor of French and of Music, Yale University
"Revealing New Perspectives is a fitting tribute to the pioneering scholarship and ongoing innovation of Stephen Nichols. A volume that includes the fruit of long-standing reflections by some of today’s most eminent medievalists and exciting new work by a number of Nichols’ former students, Revealing New Perspectives offers rich reading for established scholars, and accessible pathways for students to some of medieval studies’ most compelling current issues, including the opportunities for investigation opened up by new technologies and the insights to be gained from engaging with the specificity and complex situatedness of each medieval work."
—Daisy Delogu, Professor of French, University of Chicago
"The first thing one notices upon perusing this book is the extraordinary list of contributors, a line-up that befits a celebration of Stephen G. Nichols’s impact on medieval studies. These engaging essays reflect the innovativeness and interdisciplinarity of their honoree’s approach, and, in keeping with the spirit of Nichols’s own work, open up intriguing possibilities for further exploration."
—Geri L. Smith, Professor of French and Chair, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Central Florida
"To honor medievalist and comparatist Stephen G. Nichols, this beautifully illustrated book assembles a roll call of skilled literary critics and historians from across the globe. In five sections, sixteen essays probe texts and topics in English, French, German, Iberian, Italian, and Occitan, from the Middle Ages through the mid-twentieth century. The striking breadth and depth—methodological, linguistic, and chronological—pay fitting tribute to Nichols, whose long and distinguished career has stretched the study of medieval poetry through the creation and application of (just for example) material and digital philology."
—Jan M. Ziolkowski, Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin, Harvard University

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Advance Praise
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction, in honor of Stephen G. Nichols (Kevin Brownlee and Marina S. Brownlee)
  • Curriculum Vitae of Stephen G. Nichols
  • Essays (Kevin Brownlee and Marina S. Brownlee)
  • Philology
  • 1. Materializing Philology: Language, Literature, and Manuscript Culture in the Middle Ages (Gabrielle Spiegel)
  • 2. Philology and Poetry: The Petitcreiu Ekphrasis in Gottfried’s Tristan (Mark Chinca)
  • 3. Errant Glory: The Lineages of Peter Schlemihl (Daniel Heller-Roazen)
  • Visuals
  • 4. Syllogisms in Stone: Theophilus, Stephen, Abelard on the Walls of Notre-Dame de Paris (R. Howard Bloch)
  • 5. Signs on the Wall: Painting History into Satire in the Roman de Fauvel of Paris, BnF MS fr. 146 (Nancy Freeman Regalado)
  • 6. Burlesque Signs: Performance, Translation, and the Betrayal of Sexism (Jody Enders)
  • Lyric
  • 7. François Villon and the Ages of Life (Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet)
  • 8. The Alterity of Medieval Iberian Poetry (Joachim Küpper)
  • 9. The Space in the Poem: Jordi de Sant Jordi, IX & XIV (Albert Lloret)
  • Alterity
  • 10. Gaston Paris and Anatole France (Michel Zink)
  • 11. Fictionalizing Modernization Theory in Alejo Carpentier’s Los Pasos Perdidos: The Middle Ages in the Jungle (Nadia Altschul)
  • 12. Material and Spiritual Exchange: Examples from the Greek East and Latin West (Marina S. Brownlee)
  • Reworkings
  • 13. Boccaccio’s Decameron—Novella I, 3 (Andreas Kablitz)
  • 14. Chaucer’s Early and Late Uses of the Two French Rose Authors (Kevin Brownlee)
  • 15. Narrative and History in Paris, BnF, fr. 1553: The Roman de la Violette in the Context of a Late 13th-Century Anthology Manuscript (Kathy Krause)
  • 16. Sapience, Prudence, and Theatricality: Preparing the Political Princess (Tracy Adams)
  • List of Contributors
  • Index

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Figure 4.1 Theophilus window, Beauvais

Figure 4.2 Theophilus window, Beauvais

Figure 4.3 Theophilus window, Beauvais

Figure 4.4 Theophilus window, Beauvais

Figure 4.5 Miracles, Chartres

Figure 4.6 Theophilus, Souillac

Figure 4.7 Theophilus, Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.8 Theophilus, Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.9 Saint Stephen’s Portal, Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.10 Saint Stephen’s Portal, Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.11 Saint Stephen’s Portal, Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.12 Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.13 Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.14 Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.15 Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.16 Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.17 Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 4.18 Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Notre-Dame, Paris

Figure 5.1 Col. A, min. 52, Fortune, Fauvel, and Vaine Gloire; col. B, min. 55, Le Palais de la Cité; col. C, min. 56, Seine River Scene

Figure 5.2 (left) The Royal Motets; (right) col. A, min. 16, The Narrator Reading His Book; (right) col. B, min 17, Fauvel Enthroned

Figure 5.3 Fol. 12r, col. B, min. 18, Charnalité

Figure 5.4 Min. 61, Fauvel’s Wedding Night, The Chalivali

Figure 5.5 Min. 26, Fauvel in Colloquy with the Vices←xi | xii→

Figure 5.6 (left) col. B; (right) col. A, Conditio / O Nacio / Mane; (left) col. C; (right) col. B, description of the wall painting

Figure 5.7 (left) The Creation of Eve; (right) Two Centaurs

Figure 5.8 Min. 46, Fortune, Fauvel, and Gilbert de Poitiers

Figure 6.1 Title page of the Discours facétieux des hommes qui font saller leurs femmes (1600)

Figure 15.1 Frontispiece, Paris, BnF, fr. 1553

Figure 15.2 Frontispiece, Richard de Saint Laurent’s De virtutibus (depicting Robert de Béthune, abbot of Clairmarias Abbey)

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We would like to acknowledge the contributors to this volume for their scholarly essays and for their deep-felt collegial recognition of Steve’s achievements. We also thank Cecilia Hsu and Samantha Pious for their essential editorial assistance. Our special thanks to Philip Dunshea, Senior Acquisitions Editor for the Humanities at Peter Lang, and to the fine work of the production team.

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This volume of studies in honor of Stephen G. Nichols by colleagues, friends, and students is called Revealing New Perspectives because that is what his career exemplifies. As both the verb and adjective forms suggest, Steve has undeniably changed the course of medieval studies in ways that have had a global impact that continues to be profound.

We are delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate this world-class medievalist whom we have had the great good fortune to know since the late 1970s when he hired us at Dartmouth fresh out of grad school. Since then we have enjoyed a truly special friendship, and thanks to Steve’s vision, indomitable energy, and generosity, we have collaborated on many innovative projects.

After completing his undergraduate days at Dartmouth and his graduate degree at Yale, Steve taught briefly at UCLA and the University of Wisconsin before joining the faculty at Dartmouth for 18 years, at Penn for 7, and at Johns Hopkins for another 18. While building French, Romance Languages, and Comparative Literature departments and programs at these institutions and others, he was also invited to teach and provide administrative advice at many other prestigious institutions both in the U.S. and abroad.

The wealth of contributions that he has authored in countless books, articles, and colloquia, as well as digital projects, is admirably daunting, and to do it justice would require a book in itself. So instead we would like to focus briefly on a few of Steve’s publications that articulate some of his most transformative ideas.

Romanesque Signs: Early Medieval Narrative and Iconography (1983),1 winner of the James Russell Lowell Prize, showed how a medieval literary artifact must be analyzed along with the artistic, architectural, political, and historical currents that prevailed during the moment of the text’s production. By means of a reading of the Oxford Roland alongside art, hagiography, and history, Steve carefully charts how a historical figure can acquire the status of a martyr. Romanesque Signs illustrates the “multi-media literacy” at issue ←1 | 2→in medieval textuality and the fact that secular and sacred elements and ideas oftentimes, far from being antithetical, reinforce one another constructively.

Another inspired and inspiring insight was launched with his “Philology in a Manuscript Culture,” in a volume of Speculum coedited with Howard Bloch entitled The New Philology.2

Here Steve boldly proclaims that “In medieval studies, philology is the matrix from which all else stems” (1). What is revolutionary in this conception is that he invokes a new philology that “should seek to minimize the isolation between medieval studies and contemporary cognitive disciplines” (1). He has always been committed to not only contextualizing the intellectual and artistic production of the past in which a work was created but also considering it according to the current theoretical optics of our time, since each age has its own set of aesthetic and cultural realities and expectations.

It is this strong belief in the paradoxical “mutable stability” of the medieval text itself and of its readers over time that has also made Steve a trailblazer in exploring philology by means of digital tools. Paul Zumthor articulated the notion of mouvance, the instability particularly of anonymous medieval texts, and Bernard Cerquiglini focused on the variante, or varying articulations of vernacular works and their impact on textual authority. Yet Steve has taken these notions of textual instability and their implications for authorship and authority to a much higher level by creating a global network of possibilities for studying hundreds of texts and miniatures from many disciplinary angles. He has achieved this by spearheading the Digital Library of Medieval Manuscripts,3 an elegantly configured website that continues to grow and provide scholars with invaluable access to manuscripts worldwide.

Much more could be said of these and others of his visionary projects, but we will conclude by mentioning his 2016 monograph entitled From Parchment to Cyberspace: Medieval Literature in the Digital Age.4 This book considers the exciting possibilities of digital tools for medieval book history and the ideological mentalities that differentiate digitized manuscripts from critical editions. It is the narrative of a personal adventure, as is clear from the book’s introduction entitled “Why I Wrote this Book, or Medieval Manuscripts Unchained.” And it is an adventure from which we have all been enriched.

Kevin Brownlee

Marina S. Brownlee

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Curriculum Vitae of Stephen G. Nichols

Stephen G. Nichols, James M. Beall Professor Emeritus of French and Humanities and Research Professor at Johns Hopkins University


  • Ph.D. Yale University (Comparative Literature), 1963.
  • B.A. Dartmouth College (cum laude), 1958.


  • Rhetorical Design in the Chanson de Geste (1963), dir. René Wellek.



XVI, 346
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (September)
The New Philology Revealing New Perspectives Essays in Honor of Stephen G. Nichols by Colleagues Students Friends Marina Scordilis Brownlee Kevin Brownlee Studies in Honor of Stephen G. Nichols
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. XVI, 346 pp., 2 b/w ill., 27 color ill.

Biographical notes

Kevin Brownlee (Volume editor) Marina S. Brownlee (Volume editor)

Kevin Brownlee received his B.A. in English from Columbia University, his M.A. in French from Oxford University, and his Ph.D. in Romance languages from Princeton University. He is Emeritus Professor of Medieval French and Italian Literature in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published extensively both on Dante’s Commedia and on the Roman de la Rose, as well as on Guillaume de Machaut, Christine de Pizan, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. Since 2019 he has been on active retirement, with essays published or forthcoming in Bibliotheca Dantesca, Digital Philology, Romania, MLN, Le Moyen Français, and the Lectura Boccaccii. He is interested both in Boccaccio’s vernacular writings and in nineteenth-century treatments of the history and theory of the Crusade. He is currently finishing a book on first-person narrative from the Roman de Fauvel to René d’Anjou (in French), and is working on the political letters and the poetry (both Italian and Latin) of Francesco Petrarca. Marina S. Brownlee received her B.A. in Hispanic studies from Smith College and her Ph.D. in Romance languages from Princeton University. Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2002 she taught and chaired both at Dartmouth College and at the University of Pennsylvania. The Medieval and Early Modern periods are her primary focus, and within them her interests include cultural and linguistic translation, curiosity and the encyclopedia, and representations of the senses. Her books include The Cultural Labyrinth of María de Zayas, The Severed Word: Ovid's ‘Heroides’ and the ‘Novela Sentimental’, The Status of the Reading Subject in the ‘Libro de Buen Amor’, and The Poetics of Literary Theory in Lope and Cervantes. Currently she is writing a book on curiosity and modernity in Early Modern Spain.


Title: Revealing New Perspectives