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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Luke Sunderland

Sunderland, Luke (2011). Linguistic and Political Ferment in the Franco-Italian Epic: The Geste Francor as Minor Literature. Exemplaria 23(3): 293-313.

Author(s) from Durham


This article proposes a reading of the medieval Franco-Italian epic collection La Geste Francor alongside Deleuze and Guattari's theory of minor literature. A text once condemned as a degenerate hybrid because of its language, which combines forms of Old French with elements of Italian vernaculars, the Geste also challenges norms of genre, thematic integrity, and poetic consistency. Like other minor literature, it troubles the constants of traditional literary analysis, precisely because our idea of "literature" has been defined in relation to major works. Deleuze and Guattari's concepts of literary polylingualism and their taxonomy of languages allow for a recuperation of works like the Geste; here, this leads to an interpretation that casts the hybrid language of the text as a means for managing and harmonizing the rival cultural, linguistic, and political claims found in medieval northern Italy. Ultimately, though, the Geste offers a different politics of the minor to that of Deleuze and Guattari: its hybrid tongue permits a cohabitation of respect for tradition and stability with vectors for change and innovation.