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CANCELLED - Stolen Song: How the Troubadours Became French

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Maison Française, Buell Hall 2nd Floor

Columbia University

515 Wet 116th Street

New York, NY 10027

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Eliza Zingesser, with responses by Madeleine Dobie, Joanna Stalnaker, Eleanor Johnson, and Judith Peraino

About this Event

This event is cancelled, as are other upcoming public events at the Columbia Maison Francaise.

As a precautionary measure in response to the coronavirus, Columbia University has asked its centers to cancel or postpone public events on campus. We will post information on our website when public events can be resumed.

Stolen Song documents the act of cultural appropriation that created a founding moment for French literary history: the rescripting and domestication of troubadour song, a prestige corpus in the European sphere, as French. This book also documents the simultaneous creation of an alternative point of origin for French literary history—a body of faux-archaic Occitanizing songs.

Most scholars would find the claim that troubadour poetry is the origin of French literature uncomplicated and uncontroversial. However, Stolen Song shows that the "Frenchness" of this tradition was invented, constructed, and confected by francophone medieval poets and compilers keen to devise their own literary history.

Stolen Song makes a major contribution to medieval studies both by exposing this act of cultural appropriation as the origin of the French canon and by elaborating a new approach to questions of political and cultural identity. Eliza Zingesser shows that these questions, usually addressed on the level of narrative and theme, can also be fruitfully approached through formal, linguistic, and manuscript-oriented tools.

Eliza Zingesser is an Assistant Professor in the Department of French at Columbia. She is a specialist of medieval French and Occitan literature.

Judith Peraino is Professor in the Department of Music at Cornell University. She is the author of Listening to the Sirens: Musical Technologies of Queer Identity from Homer to Hedwig and Giving Voice to Love: Song and Self-Expression from the Troubadours to Guillaume de Machaut, among other published works.

Joanna Stalnaker is Professor of French at Columbia University. She is the author of The Unfinished Enlightenment: Description in the Age of the Encyclopedia, among other published works.

Eleanor Johnson is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her published works include Dramatizing Contemplation: Participatory Theology in Middle English Prose, Verse, and Drama; and Practicing Literary Theory in the Late Middle Ages: Ethics and the Mixed Form in Chaucer, Gower, Usk, and Hoccleve.

Madeleine Dobie is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Trading Places: Colonization and Slavery in Eighteenth-Century French Culture and Foreign Bodies: Gender, Language, and Culture in French Orientalism, among other publications.

This event is presented in the New Books in the Arts & Sciences Series. It is co-sponsored by the Maison Française, Office of the Divisional Deans in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Please arrive ahead of time to secure a spot.

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Maison Française, Buell Hall 2nd Floor

Columbia University

515 Wet 116th Street

New York, NY 10027

View Map

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