‘Take anothir Forme:’ The Selection of Forms in Thomas Hoccleve’s Work
The International Hoccleve Society is devoted to promoting scholarship on the late-medieval poet Thomas Hoccleve, provoking innovative research into his work, and providing a community for Hoccleve scholars. By sponsoring this session at the International Medieval Congress, we hope to provoke scholars to explore how recent critical interest in form and formalism might contribute to our understanding of Hoccleve’s work as a maker of poetry and books. At the same time, we hope to encourage scholars to consider how Hoccleve’s making of poetry and of books might contribute to our understanding of form in the early fifteenth century.
As Christopher Cannon notes, “‘form’ is a slippery concept and this has long been true” (177). This session aims to take advantage of the slipperiness of form as a concept by inviting papers that define it broadly. We invite papers that explore literary, physical, and bureaucratic forms in all aspects of Hoccleve’s work—his poetic output as well as his work as a clerk of the Privy Seal. We anticipate that papers will explore the selection of literary forms in Hoccleve’s work, the selection of physical forms—formats—in which his work circulated and continues to circulate, or the selection of bureaucratic forms in Hoccleve’s formulary (London, British Library, MS Additional 24062). We also anticipate papers that will explore the relationships between these aspects of form.
Papers in this session may also consider how well contemporary conceptions of form correspond with Hoccleve’s own use of the term. For the old man in the Regiment of Princes, the selection of forms has moral consequences. When he presses the narrator to follow only good advice, he warns that
If thow it weyve and take anothir forme,
Aftir thy childissh misreuled conceit,
Thow doost unto thyself harm and deceit. (RP 194-96)
The old man uses the word forme to denote a model to be copied, but the word weyve invites readers to consider its bureaucratic connotations as well. Hoccleve’s diction suggests that, in the bureaucratic and moral realms, the selection of form can determine the difference between “harm and deceit” and “reward and truth.” To what extent do these consequences apply to the selection of literary and physical forms in Hoccleve’s work and, more broadly, to our conception of form in the early fifteenth century?
Please send 250-word proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 15, 2012.