Dr Marcel Elias, St Catharine's



Biographical Information

I am a Junior Research Fellow at St Catharine’s College. I came to Cambridge for my PhD as a Gates Scholar in 2013, following a BA and an MA at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. My current book project, entitled The Crusades in Medieval English Romance: Emotion, Morality, and Providence, explores public attitudes to the crusades in the later Middle Ages through an investigation of the Middle English crusading romances, with a particular focus on their emotional rhetoric. It argues that the prevailing climate after the fall of Acre in 1291 and the evacuation of the last Christian strongholds in the Levant was characterized by a mixture of enduring enthusiasm and fascination, but also of concern, uncertainty, and self-questioning, engendered by the enterprise’s repeated failures. Reworking the emotional depictions of their sources, authors or adaptors of Middle English crusading romances engaged with, and solicited reflection on, the cultural anxieties of the time: man’s relation to God, the workings of divine providence, Christianity’s ascendancy over Islam, the role and significance of human agency, the connection between morality and fortune, the bearing of motives on actions, and the moral challenges of violence. Alongside this project, I have articles in preparation on Chaucer and Gower and the crusades, and on the motif of the virtuous, admonitory Saracen, which acquired unprecedented currency in fourteenth-century European literary culture. I am also beginning a new project on religious conversion in insular and continental European literature spanning the twelfth through sixteenth centuries.

Research Interests

The literature and history of the crusades; Middle English and Anglo-Norman romance; chansons de geste; chivalric literature and culture; representations of violence and war; the history of emotions, vices, and virtues; religious conversion; processes of translation and adaptation, particularly from Old French and Anglo-Norman to Middle English.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I have supervised the Medieval Paper at Homerton, Pembroke, and St Catharine’s. I will be lecturing for the Faculty during the academic year of 2017-2018.

Selected Publications

'Crusade Romances and the Matter of France', in Oxford History of Poetry in English, vol. 2, ed. Helen Cooper and Robert Roy Edwards (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

'Rewriting Chivalric Encounters in Fourteenth-Century Romance', in Romance Rewritten: Essays for Helen Cooper, ed. Elizabeth Archibald, Megan Leitch, and Corinne Saunders (Cambridge: Brewer, forthcoming 2018)

'Romance Adaptation, Emotional Interpolations, and Blurring the Christian-Saracen Divide', in Emotion and Medieval Textual Media, ed. Mary Flannery (Turnhout: Brepols, forthcoming 2018).

'Violence, Excess, and the Composite Emotional Rhetoric of Richard Coeur de Lion', Studies in Philology 114:1 (2017), 1-38.

'Mixed Feelings in the Middle English Charlemagne Romances: Emotional Reconfiguration and the Failures of Crusading Practices in the Otuel Texts', New Medieval Literatures 16 (2016), 172-212

'The Case of Anger in The Siege of Milan and The King of Tars', Comitatus 43 (2012), 41-56