Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

  The French of England: Multilingualism in Practice, c.1100-c.1500

27th Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval Studies, Fordham University
Friday, March 30 - Sunday, April 1, 2007
At the Lincoln Center Campus of Fordham University

Medieval England presents a historical example of European multilingualism striking for the diversity of "cultural traffic" between the English and French languages. This conference addresses the sociolinguistic plurality of French in England in its documentary and literary forms, internal and external interrelations, and cross-disciplinary importance to Middle English and continental French Medieval Studies. Speakers will come from history (including legal history); literature; religion; art history; and linguistics. The conference aims:
  1. to promote wider scholarly awareness of the French of England as a field, of medieval England as a multilingual society, and of links between insular and continental Frenches;
  2. to work towards a Middle English literary and cultural studies fully inclusive of French; and
  3. to explore beyond the traditional subdivisions (Norman French, Anglo-Norman, Anglo-French, continental French/es) towards a more inclusive account of French in England and its interrelations with other languages

The French of England Project

The French of England (FoE), a term describing the French texts that circulated in medieval England (covering both Anglo-Norman and Anglo-French), is a major but relatively under-researched field, which has largely tended to fall between the nationalizing literary and cultural histories of England and France. Inaugurated at Fordham University in 2001 and now sponsored jointly by the Center for Medieval Studies at Fordham University in New York City and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York in England, FoE has received generous financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities in the USA, the Modern Humanities Research Association in the UK, and the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Fordham.
     The Project was created to increase awareness of and access to the francophone texts of medieval England.  For at least 400 years in England, French was a major language of literary and cultural pursuits, of documentation and record, of instruction, and of various professions. In literature alone, nearly a thousand texts have now been catalogued, many needing modern editions. Still greater bodies of French material exist in administrative, mercantile, professional and legal records. The history and literary cultures of medieval England cannot adequately be understood without investigation of England’s extensive French corpus. FoE aims to increase awareness of and access to this field by its own translations and other publications and by encouraging the research of students and seasoned scholars alike. 

A sister conference, The French of England: Linguistic Accommodation and Cultural Hybridities, will take place in The Centre for Medieval Studies, The King’s Manor, University of York, UK, over 13-16th July 2007, to be immediately followed by the York Manuscripts Conference, which in 2007 will be on “French and French-Influenced Manuscripts in England” and take place over 17th-19th July 2007. For further information, please contact Prof. Jocelyn Wogan-Browne ( and Prof. Linne Mooney ( )

Conference Program


Saturday, March 31

8:30 a.m.  Registration and Coffee
9:00 a.m. Welcome: Maryanne Kowaleski, Director of the Center for Medieval Studies, Fordham University

The French of England Project
Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, University of York and Fordham FOE Project

9:30-10:15 Session 1: Plenary

Chair: Thelma Fenster, Fordham University
Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns: The Circulation of French Literature in Medieval England
            Keith Busby, University of Wisconsin

10:15-10:45 Break
10:45-12:15 2: Concurrent Sessions
  2A. The French of Female Communities

Chair: Mary C. Erler, Fordham University

What Nuns Ate: The Multilingual Kitcheners’ Accounts of Campsey Ash Priory
            Marilyn Oliva, Fordham University
What Women Do Together: ‘Queer’ Philology and Female Sexuality
            Lara Farina, West Virginia University
The Rhyming French Chronicle of the Godstow Nuns
            Emilie Amt, Hood College

  2B. Later French of England and John Gower

Chair: Alistair Minnis, Yale University

John Gower, John Barton, and Others: Looking at Late Anglo-French
            Brian Merrilees and Heather Pagan, University of Toronto
Linguistic and Political Union in Gower’s Trentham Manuscript
            Arthur Bahr, Haverford College
John Gower’s French and His Readers
            Robert F. Yeager, University of West Florida

12:15-2:00 Lunch.  A list of local restaurants will be provided.

 3: Concurrent Sessions

  3A. Documentary and Literary Cultures in the French of England 

Chair: Maryanne Kowaleski, Fordham University

English Testators Writing French Wills
            Sharon Teague, Rhode Island College and Bryant University
Transmuting Alchemy: Chaucer’s English, Gower’s French, and the Privy Language of the London Goldsmiths 
            Jonathan Hsy, University of Pennsylvania
Uses of the French Language in Medieval English Towns
            Richard Britnell, University of Durham

3B. French Histories and The Making of English Identities
Chair: Jennifer Goodman, Texas A & M University

’Que vous n’oubliez pas le françois’: The Shrewsbury Book and the Circulation of French Chivalric Material in Fifteenth-Century England
            Andrew Taylor, University of Ottawa
Anglo-Norman as Antecedent: The Case of the Prose Brut Chronicle
            Julia Marvin, University of Notre Dame
Old French of England
            Michelle Warren, Dartmouth College

3:30-4:00  Break
4:00-5:30 4: Concurrent Sessions
   4A. The French of England: Lexical and Syntactic Considerations

Chair: Mary B. Speer, Rutgers University

French Style(s) at Barking: Clemence of Barking and the Life of Edward the Confessor
            Delbert Russell, University of Waterloo
Syntaxe anglo-normande: étude de certaines caractéristiques du XIIe au XIVe siècle
            Pierre Kunstmann, University of Ottawa
Why Historians of the Early Common Law Need to Study French
            Paul Hyams, Cornell University

  4B. Influential French: Saints, Preachers, and Psalters

Chair: Robert Hanning, Columbia University

French and English in the Preaching Literature of Nicole Bozon
            Laurie Postlewate, Barnard College
Questions of Influence: Clemence of Barking’s Life of St. Catherine and Representations of Law, Lordship, and Civic Unrest in Two Old French Catherine Legends
            Donna Bussell, University of Illinois-Springfield
The Psalter en Romanz in Twelfth-Century England
            Geoff Rector, University of Ottawa

5:30-7:00 Reception

Sunday, April 1

8:30  Registration and Coffee
9:00-10:00 5: Concurrent Sessions
  5A. Linguistic Politics and the French of England

Chair: Nicholas Paul, Fordham University

Language Contact and Langland’s French
            Mary Catherine Davidson, University of Kansas
The Memory of the Norman Conquest and the Invention of National Vernaculars in Renaissance France and England
            Paul Cohen, University of Toronto               

5B. French Passions of England
Chair: Suzanne Yeager, Fordham University


The Life of Christ in the French of England: Theme and Variations
            Maureen Boulton, University of NotreDame 
Linguistic and Cultural Translation across the Conquest: The Virgin Body
            Anne Savage, McMaster University

10-10:30 Break
10:30-11:30 6: Concurrent Sessions

6A. Genre Otherwise


Chair: Nancy Regalado, New York University


Wolf, Dog, and Man in Bestiaries and Marie de France’s ‘Bisclavret’
            Susan Crane, Columbia University
The Genre of the Ordre de bel ayse
            Richard Firth Green, Ohio State University

  6B. The ‘Presence’ of French 
Chair:  Elizabeth Brown, Brooklyn College and The Graduate School, CUNY

Authentication: Pentimento Languages
            Christopher Baswell, University of California at Los Angeles
Translated Images: French Influence, or Lackof It, on English Book Iconography
            Joyce Coleman, University of Oklahoma

11:30-12:00 Break
12:00-1:00 Session 7: Roundtable  

7. French Futures: The French of England and Insular and Continental Medieval Studies
Moderator:  Christopher Baswell, University of California at Los Angeles

Participants:Keith Busby, University of Wisconsin
Sarah Kay, Princeton University
Robert Stein, Columbia University and SUNY-Purchase
Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, University of York and Fordham FOE Project




  This conference is part of Communitas: Past, Present & Future, the Fordham Graduate School of Arts and Sciences First Annual Reunion Weekend.  We gratefully acknowledge the support of Dr Nancy Busch, the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.   
   Image: Edward the Confessor returns from his Norman upbringing to take up the English throne (CUL, Ee. 3. 59, f. 8v)  

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