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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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