Revivalist Fantasy

Alliterative Verse and Nationalist Literary History

Randy P. Schiff

Interventions: New Studies in Medieval Culture


Literary Criticism/Medieval; Literary Criticism/European/General; Literary Criticism/Poetry
276 pp. 6x9

$47.95 cloth 978-0-8142-1152-6
Add cloth to shopping cart

$14.95 CD 978-0-8142-9251-8
Add CD to shopping cart

Shopping Cart Instructions
Review/Change Shopping Cart & Check-out

Table of Contents

Explore More
The author recommends the following links:

The British Library

The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester

The Medieval Bestiary: Animals in the Middle Ages

The Nationalism Project

TEAMS Middle English Texts Series


Revivalist Fantasy: Alliterative Verse and Nationalist Literary History . . . merits high praise as a theoretically alert disciplinary history framing illuminating analyses of individual poems. . . . Schiff’s abiding interest is in how later-medieval alliterative poems, rather than looking backwards to an imagined Saxon past, speak instead to a range of local, contemporary, and transnational ‘anxieties.’ . . . [S]cholarship on Middle English poetry in general will benefit from engaging with Revivalist Fantasy.” —The Medieval Review

“Randy Schiff makes an important and much-needed argument. The individual chapters treat a number of well-known (but some woefully understudied) examples of alliterative poetry in new and compelling contexts. Both historical and generally theoretical, Schiff’s work will be appreciated by a wide range of scholars in English medieval studies.” —Elizabeth Scala, University of Texas

Revivalist Fantasy offers a striking reassessment of the historical production and critical history of the texts and contexts of the so-called Alliterative Revival. Learned and positioned within its critical field, Schiff’s book is notable for its compendious analysis of the long critical tradition surrounding Middle English Alliterative texts. Schiff is at his smartest, his most incisive, when construing and analyzing trends in literary history. His mapping of this extensive field of criticism is impressively careful while packing a stunning conceptual punch.” —Patricia Ingham, Indiana University

Revivalist Fantasy: Alliterative Verse and Nationalist Literary History by Randy P. Schiff contributes to recent conversations about disciplinary history by analyzing the nationalist context for scholars and editors involved in disseminating the literary historical theory of an Alliterative Revival. Redirecting Alliterative Revivalism’s backward gaze, Revivalist Fantasy re-engages with the local contexts of select alliterative works.

Schiff revises readings of alliterative poetry as Francophobic, exploring the transnational imperialist elitism in the translation William of Palerne. He contributes to the discussion of gender in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by linking the poem’s powerful female players with anxieties about women’s control of wealth and property in militarized regions of England. The book also explores the emphatically pre-national, borderlands sensibilities informing the Awntyrs off Arthure and Golagros and Gawane, and it examines the exploitation of collaborative composition in the material legacy of the Piers Plowman tradition.

Revivalist Fantasy concludes that Revivalist nationalism obscures crucial continuities between late-medieval and post-national worlds and that critics’ interests should be channeled into the forging of connections between past and present rather than suspended in the scholarly pursuit of origins. The book will be of interest to scholars of editorial history and translation studies and to those interested in manuscript studies.

Randy P. Schiff is assistant professor of English at SUNY Buffalo.