The Medieval French Pastourelle Tradition:
Poetic Motivations and Generic Transformations

Geri L. Smith

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"By showing how three major authors self-consciously adapted the pastourelle to suit their own purposes, this book sheds light on the larger concept of the genre. The close analysis of large bodies of text will help readers appreciate the skill with which these authors manipulated a traditional genre in the context of rapidly changing social and cultural conditions."--Kristen Figg, Kent State University-Salem

One of the most popular genres created and performed by Medieval troubadours and trouvères was the pastourelle. Though it varied greatly in its details, the genre was dominated by the following theme: a passing knight encounters and attempts to seduce a shepherdess who, in turn, defends herself against his advances in a variety of ways. The brilliance of the artists who manipulated the genre was revealed in their ability to innovate, synthesize, and elaborate upon the constraints of the form.

In this work--the first major evaluation of the Northern French pastourelle to appear in decades--Geri Smith examines the genre in the hands of three Medieval masters: Adam de la Halle, Jean Froissart, and Christine de Pizan. She explores the very different ways in which these individuals engaged with the form and subject matter of the pastourelle and transformed it, variously, into a stage for their dramatic artistry, a forum for their responses to social and ideological conditions, and, ultimately, into a distinctive statement bearing their individual mark. The result sheds new light on the evolving concept of author in the Middle Ages.

Geri L. Smith is associate professor of French at the United States Military Academy, West Point.

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"Smith links the popularity of the pastourelle with anxieties about changing social and economic conditions, whereby the bourgeoisie were gaining power and influence at the expense of the aristocratic class." Medium Aevum

"An interesting and wide-ranging work of scholarship, with implications for several critical discussions within medieval literary studies." Medieval Review

"Sheds new light on the evolving concept of author in the Middle Ages." Fabula, la recherche en litterature

"Anyone with an interest in the pastourelle form and its evolution will find this book invaluable, similarly those concerned with Adam, Froissart, or Christine. Smith's broader enquiry into questions of authorship, genre, gender, voice, and ideology in medieval literature makes this an important book for any medievalist." The Journal of Speculum, vol.85 n.4

“This fascinating study has brought together three innovative authors whose pastourelles now echo one another in enriched ways. Geri Smith’s sustained probing, patient quoting, extensive scholarly knowledge, and perceptive comparisons between texts and critical material make this study of poetic motivations and generic transformations in the Medieval French pastourelle a delightful scholarly innovation in itself.” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching

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