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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Luke Sunderland

Sunderland, Luke (2018). Emotions, History and Presence in Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie. Forum for Modern Language Studies 54(4): 443-464.

Author(s) from Durham


Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie is notable for its long descriptions of buildings and objects and for its focus on the emotions of characters. Drawing on historiographical work by Eelco Runia and Frank Ankersmit, amongst others, this article argues that the Roman de Troie represents a mode of history privileging a material and affective relationship to the past via engagement of the senses. Rather than representing the past as having a particular meaning for the present, the Troie transcends the difference between literature and history, encouraging sensory openness to history whereby the audience might be moved by the past and drawn into shared emotional vulnerability with the protagonists. The Troie makes the past present, conjuring it into being to allow for a sublime, traumatic experience of the past.