Viva Voce: The Premodern Voice

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A series of very short presentations, with plenty of time for discussion, and wine to follow. We’ll be thinking about the following questions:

How do we as critics retrospectively conceive of and define the premodern voice? What is the nature of the lyric voice? What is the narrative or legal status conferred upon a figure identified as a voice? Why do we turn to figures of voice when we talk about authenticity? Does the ‘voice’ presuppose a human or anthropomorphised subject? Does it presuppose or generate personhood? How does voice get visualised pictorially? And what if the voice sounds from beyond the grave?

We'd like to invite people to get in touch if they would like to contribute as 'discussants' — we want to privilege discussion and interaction throughout the afternoon, and so are conceiving of everyone attending as participants rather than as audience. Please let us know of any graduate students you think might be particularly interested in this.

Confirmed speakers are Helen Swift (French); Elizabeth Eva Leach (Music); Jess Goodman (French); Jane Gilbert (French, UCL); Emily Price (French, NYU); Catherine Keen (Italian, UCL); Jeremy Llewellyn (Music); David Bowe (Italian); Katherine Ibbett (French), Jennifer Rushworth (French, UCL) . 

Places are limited: please sign up by emailing by April 30

Organised by David Bowe, Jess Goodman, Katherine Ibbett, Helen Swift, and sponsored by the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities 



1.30pm Welcome and introduction

1.40pm-2.40pm Gender, performance, and ownership

David Bowe - Voicing Will and Voicing Authority: the Compiuta Donzella and "Dante's" Piccarda
Elizabeth Eva Leach - Manufacturing voice or performing consent: women, rape, and enjoying the pastourelle.

Emily Kate Price - Whose voice is it anyway?

2.40pm-3.40pm Speech, place, and politics

Jessica Goodman - Voice, speech, style in the dialogue des morts
Catherine Keen - Voice and Place in Medieval Italian Exile Lyric

Katherine Ibbett - The Absolutist Voice

3.40pm-4.10pm Tea/coffee and cake

4.10pm-5.10pm Vocal media, forms, and structures

Jeremy Llewellyn - Melismatic Mansplaining in Medieval Secular Song
Jane Gilbert - What do brackets sound like?

Helen Swift - More than Words: Looking for Voice in Fifteenth-Century Narrative Poetry

5.10pm-6.00pm Closing discussion

6.00pm-6.30pm Wine reception


Humanities & Identities
Oxford Medieval Studies

Contact name: Katherine Ibbett
Contact email:
Audience: Open to all