Department of English
215 Glenbrook Road, U-4025
Storrs, CT 06269-4025 http://mythicalbrit.wordpress.com/
Joanna A. Huckins MacGugan
Joanna began her medieval studies career with the Master’s in History program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her thesis, entitled “The Otherworld in Medieval Irish and Welsh Arthurian Literature: A Comparative Mythology,” examined cultural transmission in early medieval Ireland, Wales, and southern Scotland. Her research interests include medieval death culture, funeral and burial ritual, environmental history and landscape studies, literacy, customary law, and social memory. In 2012 her article “Landscape and Lamentation: Constructing Commemorated Space in Three Middle Irish Texts” was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy.
The politics of death provide the organizing framework for untangling changing relationships between oral and literate practices in Joanna’s dissertation, entitled “Governing Death in Medieval Dublin: The Emergence of an Oral-Textual Mentality, 1257-1485.” What we see in colonial Irish sources is not simply synthesis of the old (oral) and the new (written), but a reinvention of oral practices to function alongside newly literate mentalities. The Irish lordship, with Dublin as its capital, became a textual community ordered around a common understanding that authority and privilege resided in the written record, but one in which social memory and lex loci (“the law of the place,” or unwritten, localized legal custom) proved powerful, vital, and resilient.
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