The Recovery of Beauty Public Lecture - Mindful Beauty: Ideas and Ideals in Medieval Literature
This is part of The Recovery of Beauty Public Lecture.
This lecture takes as its focus conflicting understandings of female beauty, which on the one hand can be linked to divine perfection and grace and on the other to temptation and fall. In medieval romance, female beauty is an imperative, inspiring chivalric perfection but also dangerous and destructive.
The prominent literary motif of the enchantress depends on just this duality. Writers such as Chaucer and Malory engage repeatedly with the fearful fascination of female beauty, the power of affect over the individual mind, and the need for mindful interpretation.
Professor Saunders specialises in medieval literature and the history of ideas, and has particular interests in romance writing, gender studies and the history of medicine. She has authored many books and articles including (with Jane Macnaughton), Madness and Creativity in Literature and Culture (2005) and (with Ulrika Maude and Jane Macnaughton), The Body and the Arts (2009). She is the English editor of the international journal of medieval studies, Medium Ævum, and editor in overall charge of Medieval Studies (1100,1500) for the major online resource, The Literary Encyclopedia. Professor Saunders is the Director of Durham University's Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and Associate Director of its Centre for Medical Humanities. She teaches across the range of Old and Middle English language and literature, as well as History of the English Language, Old French and Renaissance topics, at both BA and MA level.
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