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Susan's Blog

The Rewards of Patient Scholarship with Patient Griselda

I first began writing about Patient Griselda from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale in the 1980s. A chapter of my dissertation addressed what I called her negative poetics. That dissertation I finished in 1991. Now it is 30 years later and that chapter has finally been published as an article in Medieval Feminist Forum–but in a much embellished and improved form. While originally I just focused on a feminist approach to Griselda's uses of variants of "no" in her replies to her abusive husband, Walter, I was now, after exploring theoretical fields not even imagined in their present forms at the time, able to produce a much richer piece. Here is the current abstract:

 

This essay argues for silence as a dynamic actant and vibrant rhetoric. While Walter commits slow violence against her, Griselda in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale resists the predatory practice of exploiting nonhuman objects, which, within misogyny, women embody. Ultimately framed within an ecocritical paradigm, this essay is grounded in lessons from trauma studies concerning silence, as well as new materialist and ecocritical approaches. Whether focusing on emotional distress, environmental devastation, or the agency of materiality, these critical approaches cohere by making manifest and heard what has been repressed, silenced, or overlooked. Griselda writes her own narrative, patiently and resiliently enacting agency through her poetics of negation.

 

Trauma studies, as I understand it, didn't even exist as a field then. New materialist and ecocritical paradigms such as plant studies–which I draw on–likewise did not exist in their current forms. There is something called "Slow Scholarship," which argues against the academy's urgent desire for immediate production. Much better scholarship can occur over the long term. I have been working something I call "slow pilgrimage ecopoetics," which looks at medieval–and more contemporary–pilgrimage texts as exemplifying a slow process, leading to an ecocritical perspective. My pilgrimage to having "Insistent, Persistent, Resilient: The Negative Poetics of Patient Griselda" published was slow, but ultimately so rewarding. It is a much better piece for having taken so long. Patience in scholarship as with Griselda's [in]famous patience deserves attention. Silence does not mean inactivity or lack of thought. It can be a form of agency as well as a form of resistance.

 

Works Referenced

"Insistent, Persistent, Resilient: The Negative Poetics of Patient Griselda." Medieval Feminist Forum, vol. 56 no. 2 (2020): 73–92.

 

Susan Signe Morrison on Slow Pilgrimage Ecopoetics

"Slow Practice as Ethical Aesthetics: The Ecocritical Strategy of Patience in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Clerk's Tale." Special Issue: 2020 Ecocriticism: In Europe and Beyond; 10th Year Anniversary Issue. Ecozon@ 11.2 (2020): 118-127.

 

"[A]n exterior air of pilgrimage": The Resilience of Pilgrimage Ecopoetics and Slow Travel from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales to Jack Kerouac's On the Road," in Special Issue of Humanities (2020) 9, 117: 1-11. Special Issue: Keep on Rolling Under the Stars: Green Readings on the Beat Generation.https://doi.org/10.3390/h9040117

 

"Slow Pilgrimage Ecopoetics." Special issue on Randomness and Design. Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment 10.1 (2019): 40-59. http://ecozona.eu/article/view/2527/3110. Accessed May 13, 2019.

 

"Dynamic Dirt: Medieval Holy Dust, Ritual Erosion, and Pilgrimage Ecopoetics." Open Library of Humanities [Waste: Papers on Disposability, Decay and Depletion]. 5.1 (2019): pp. 1-30. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16995/olh.373.

 

"Walking as Memorial Ritual: Pilgrimage to the Past." Featured Article for M/C Journal: A Journal of Media and Culture 21.4 (2018). Special Issue: Walking. http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/view/1437

 

On slow scholarship: see Hannes Bergthaller,, Rob Emmett, Adeline Johns-Putra, Agnes Kneitz, Susanna Lidström, Shane McCorristine, Isabel Pérez Ramos, Dana Phillips, Kate Rigby and Libby Robin. "Mapping Common Ground: Ecocriticism, Environmental History, and the Environmental Humanities." Environmental Humanities, vol. 5, 2014, pp. 261-276.

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Delighted to be Designated University Distinguished Professor

Deeply honored and humbled to be designated Texas State University Distinguished Professor. Many thanks to all who supported me throughout my career! 🙏 And special congratulations to my fellow designee, Rodney Rohde! Here's more about the award: "This award honors individuals whose performance in teaching, research, and service has been exemplary and recognized at the state, national, and international levels. Dr. Morrison will retain the title of "University Distinguished Professor" for the duration of her service at Texas State. She will also receive a one-time $5,000 award, a commemorative medallion, and recognition during the fall convocation. Finally, Dr. Morrison has been nominated for consideration by The Texas State University System (TSUS) Board of Regents for the Regents' Professor Award."

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Scholarly Analysis of “Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife”

Jolene Witkam's MA Thesis in Philology from Leiden University

It is so interesting when one's own novel becomes fodder for literary scholars to analyze. As a literary scholar myself, it is really fun to read. For example, I came across an MA thesis which analyzes Grendel's Mother: Jolene Witkam's MA Thesis in Philology from Leiden University. One of her advisors is none other than Dr. M. H. Porck, whose blog on Early English material and Old English is fantastic. Then there is Kathleen Forni's Beowulf's Popular Afterlife in Literature, Comic Books, and Film (Routledge, 2018). Forni calls my novel "a realistic and lyrically poetic version of a story….As Morrison's elegant retelling attests, high art can also embody the experiences of the marginalized." I'm delighted academics are able to take this novel and read it from theoretical and linguistic perspectives. I'm looking forward to seeing more in the future! Let me know if you come across any other such works.

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Cold War Women's Stories for International Women's Day

For International Women's Day, listen to these women's Cold War stories, including mine! Mine is the 5th one on this list at Cold War Conversations.

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A Valentine's Day Poem

I hope you enjoy this poem of mine, "Cathedral." Recently published in The Taj Mahal Review, it was inspired by a glorious trip in the rain, November 2017, with my two dear children to the Rodin Museum in Paris. 

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Join me for a poetry reading of "Another Troy"

I hope you can join me virtually "at" BookWoman, one of the last of the valiant feminist bookstores in the USA. It takes place at 7:15 CST on Thursday, February 11th. We're blessed in Austin to have this store here! They are so supportive of the community and I've given a number of readings of my books there. Now, it's time for a reading of my mother's poetry. Joan Wehlen Morrison was a historian and writer. After her death, we found her diaries and poetry from the late 1930s-early 1940s when she was a teenager. I edited the diaries which were published as Home Front Girl. This past year, Finishing Line Press published some of her poetry in a chapbook entitled Another Troy. I'll be doing a reading of some of these poems. It will be followed by an open mic poetry reading. So you can participate, if you like! The event is organized by the wonderful Cindy Huyser, who interviewed me here.  Here is the link to register--it's free and sure to be fun. I hope to "see" you there!

 

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Consent and Lemman in Geoffrey Chaucer’s "The Reeve’s Tale"

My essay, "Consent and Lemman in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Reeve's Tale," has just been published in Notes and Queries. If you would ike a pdf, do let me know! The article begins:

 

The use of the Middle English word lemman—loved one, paramour, or sweetheart—by Malyne, daughter of the miller Symkyn in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Reeve's Tale, complicates an already fraught speech (I.4240–4247). It is uttered after her sexual encounter with the university student Aleyn. Their intercourse remains charged in Chaucer studies because of (1) the nature of how coitus is initiated and (2) Malyne's reaction afterwards—a speech followed by weeping. Understood within Chaucer's own biography—his release from charges of raptus by Cecily Chaumpaigne—this tale has inevitably generated charged controversy. The word lemman occurs over a dozen times in the Chaucer corpus, mainly in The Canterbury Tales. Most notoriously, it occurs twice in Malyne's sole speech. This essay reads the use of lemman within the Chaucerian corpus, concluding to concur with other scholars who interpret Aleyne and Malyne's sexual encounter as rape.

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On Pilgrimage with Geoffrey Chaucer and Jack Kerouac

My husband, Jim, took this photo in 1994 when we walked from Winchester to Canterbury in England.

Delighted to have written the featured article for this issue of Humanities about the pilgrimage connections between Geoffrey Chaucer and Jack Kerouac. This photo from our pilgrimage in 1994 from Winchester to Canterbury by Jim shows that pilgrims still walk to sacred shrines even in our modern world.

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Unlikely Partners: “Song of the Lark” and Bill Murray

"Song of the Lark" by Jules Breton

My mother grew up in Chicago and frequented the Art Institute of Chicago. She often wrote about the art there in her diary and poetry. The Song of the Lark, the painting by Jules Breton, was one of Joan's favorites. Today, on what would have been her 98th birthday, I would like to share a moment from her diary and a brief interview with Bill Murray. The interview is one my husband shared with me today and brought a tear to my eye. Please give the interview a listen–Bill Murray is quite moving. And my mom's diary entry belongs to a different mode of thought–still, the painting is very familiar to her!

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An Unexpected Lagniappe

My book on medieval women contains many images and is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as those wishing to find out more about these amazing medieval women.

Feeling rather dreary while waiting in the post office line for two hours, I got an email out of the blue with this message: "I'm a history student in West Yorkshire in England and I just wanted to tell you I loved your book. I quoted you several times as a secondary source for my essay and presentation in my module of Community & Identity in the Later Middle Ages. I loved the strong women you portrayed like Margery Kempe, Margaret Paston, and Margaret Beaufort."

 

 

What a lovely lagniappe! Suddenly, that post office line didn't seem so daunting.

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