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4th Annual Hoccleve Recovery Day on Social Media

As we have done for the last three years the International Hoccleve Society is very pleased to be sponsoring the 4th Annual Hoccleve Recovery Day, this November 1 on social media. We are excited to welcome you and your students to participate by posting something related to our theme (and perhaps to Hoccleve) with the hashtag #Hoccleve at least once on a major social media site like Facebook or Twitter that day. The theme this year is “Recovery and Activism” Our full call is below the line. We really hope you will participate and we look forward to seeing what you’ll post!

The International Hoccleve Society Sponsors the 4th Annual Hoccleve Recovery Day: Recovery and Activism

Politics has a tendency to be maddening, and in recent months such a connection has been distressingly literal. Public discourse is increasingly accepting and understanding of mental illness and its treatment, but at the same time the availability of services and treatments is under attack by federal budget proposals. The Hoccleve Society would like to use this year’s annual Recovery Day to view mental and other personal health initiatives through the lens of expressions of distress and recovery and their context in our politicized world.

Thomas Hoccleve situated his melancholic desolation in his “Complaint” within the context of a bustling urban environment that metonymically expressed the constraints of national politics: the “prees” of London and Westminster crowds oppressed and turned on him an overwhelming and maddening “straunge countinaunce,” reflective of the alienating and repressive cultural policies of the Lancastrian kings. Scholars argue that Hoccleve’s poems were political expressions, perhaps of complicity but more likely of resistance and a struggle for identity and purpose.

At a time when American and global politics seem to be entering a new era of repression, socially we are also entering a phase of resistance that refuses to bow to mistruths and injustice. Just as Hoccleve sought truth through writing and self-expression, we invite you to share social media posts—which might include quotations from Hoccleve or other medieval writers—about your own processes of coming to terms with and reordering a disordered world. How do you envision members of a global community using activism and self-assertion in a fight for rights and humanity, harnessing together personal and political recovery?

On 1 November 2017, post your thoughts to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and our society’s website with the hashtag #Hoccleve. Look out for our own posts on our site and our Hoccleve Lyfe Coache, Twitter and Facebook feeds; and “like” or retweet thematically pertinent items throughout the day under the #Hoccleve hashtag followed by any other tags you’d like, such as #recovery, #thisiswhataprofessorlookslike, #MiddleEnglish, or #MSilluminations. Please follow us, participate, and “like” us to stay tuned! We will be compiling posts tagged with our #Hoccleve hashtag into a Storify page after the day for us all to use as resource and touchstone in the coming weeks and months.

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Call for Papers Kalamazoo 2018

IHS is pleased to announce that we will be sponsoring a session in partnership with the Lydgate Society at the 2018 ICMS in Kalamazoo.

Hoccleve, Lydgate, and their Patrons

There’s much to tie Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate together: a shared language, political life under both Ricardian and Lancastrian rule, a purported love for “father” Chaucer, and—perhaps most important—a single network of patrons and benefactors. Their poetic accounts regarding the lived experience of this common ground, however, could not be more different. As Robert Meyer-Lee has observed, Lydgate is, in social and economic terms, “the kind of poet” that Hoccleve failed to become. Where Hoccleve repeatedly describes seeking and not finding steady patronage, Lydgate managed to do so with apparent ease; where Hoccleve’s works apart from the Regiment of Princes appear to have circulated only in modest numbers, Lydgate’s verse found great favor among a variety of audiences, including merchants, craftsmen, scholars, and the nobility. This panel reassesses Hoccleve and Lydgate’s shared literary moment by focusing, in particular, on their varied relationship to patronage. Sample questions that might be explored include the following: Does Lydgate view Prince Hal in the same way that Hoccleve does? How do Lydgate and Hoccleve select or manage their patrons, particularly in light of the dangerous currents of the Lancastrian court? Why, for example, is the Fall of Princes dedicated to Duke Humphrey (in the case of Lydgate) or the Series dedicated to a shifting set of patrons (in the case of Hoccleve)? And to what extent may Lydgate and Hoccleve be said to deploy what John Burrow has termed “petitionary poetics?”

We are thrilled that Robert Meyer-Lee has agreed to serve as a respondent to the panel of papers. Abstracts addressing either or both of these poets and the question of patronage should be emailed to Taylor Cowdery ( by no later than September 15. Inquiries also welcome.

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Hoccleve at Kalamazoo 2017: Highlights

The Hoccleve society sponsored two sessions this year, which dovetailed quite well towards an investigation of the work Hoccleve does on the page and the work we do in the classroom. Thank you to Danielle Bradley for writing this excellent recap.

Hoccleve at Play (Session 473)

A panel titled “Hoccleve at Play” might seem to have little to do with work—and panelists reminded that Hoccleve himself often counters work and play in his texts—Travis Neel pointed out that poetry represents a labor output and can be considered part of a bureaucratic job that requires securing patronage, job security, and promotion. In David Watt’s words, “the work of bureaucracy never ends,” and uncertainty over pay risks leaving one’s work seeming purposeless.

Watt’s “Does this Stress Make Me Look Fat? Awkwardness in Thomas Hoccleve’s Verse” explored the awkward situations Hoccleve finds himself in due to the government’s inability to pay its employees. It is a tricky task to ask one’s employer for money, and Hoccleve’s major mode of play is that of awkwardness, belaboring the point of his own dilemmatic consternation. He creates this mood of cringe-worthy humor through rather literal play on the meaning of the word “awkward” as facing or turning in the wrong direction. In terms of form, word order causes the reader to turn forward and backward, mirroring how Hoccleve himself does not know where to turn. Awkward can also refer to misalignment between expectation and actual behavior. In “Male regle” Hoccleve understands “play” to mean drinking, merriment and verbal sparring, but not sex or manly combativeness; this reticence from a tavern-goer appears awkwardly uncomfortable to a reader. Associates in “My Complaint” turn away on the streets or contort their faces in grimace at him. Onlookers feel awkward either because Hoccleve has, in his madness, done something unexpected, or because they themselves did not meet expectations as friends; readers feel awkward because we are unsure whether this character is truly Hoccleve or a persona (and whether we should be privy to his personal revelations). Yet Watt argued that awkwardness is, ultimately, not isolating but uniting, because the mood spreads and captures others who join Hoccleve in a community with shared problems.

Travis Neel presented another way Hoccleve sustains bureaucratic community in “Convolutions H: Play, Time, Work in Hoccleve’s Ballades to Henri Somer.” Channeling Walter Benjamin, Neel commented on how work risked feeling mirthless to Hoccleve because insufficient funds for play created an unbroken labor. In his poem addressed to his feasting group the Court of Good Company Hoccleve longs for the traditional progression of the seasons—including pay days and the feast days which pay arrears threaten. Given the probably high cost of membership, Hoccleve seems willing to spend much of his wages on these opportunities for collegial revelry, and therefore this loss is significant to him. The poet contrasts the “unnatural” timescale with his own formal mastery, and Neel suggested that reading these more lighthearted and pleasurable poems alongside the more serious Series which likely dates to around the same time will move scholars to revaluate their view of Hoccleve as a “bungling bureaucrat and old misfit.” Searching for a distinct “Hocclevean Irony” leads Neel to claim that greater attention to formal elements, including Hoccleve’s playfulness and control, will show that Hoccleve deserves the same assumption of distance between author and persona that Chaucer receives in ironic readings.

Taylor Cowdery’s “Funny Money in Hoccleve’s Begging Poems” similarly found Hoccleve bemoaning unnatural materials—in this case clipped coins—and how they represent a failed covenant between government and civil servant. The poet and his Friend in the “Dialogue with a Friend” search for something for the poet to write, and the Friend determines that if he is to write for Prince Henry it must “be good mateer and vertuous” (637). Cowdery traced the meaning of “virtuous” in Middle English usage, finding that it could mean both ethically upstanding or physically strong. Words that are virtuous have both material and formal force. Hoccleve’s discourse on clipped coins in his begging poems become significant in this light, especially given the metaphorical nature of literature as a currency which spreads and forges connections. And like words, coins’ value rests in both their material and form. Hoccleve’s anger at unnatural money represents resentment towards unnatural words, whose form and meaning are out of sync. Money ought not be malleable, but slippage of meaning and puns, for instance in the ballads to Henri Somer, suggest this malleability and thus the mismatch between the wage owed and the empty pocket; and the need for Somer’s own words ordering the wages at the exchequer to be real not counterfeit. Cowdery stressed an interpretation of this poem that sees Hoccleve turning to play as a strategy for working the mechanisms of government in his favor—though he reminded that play is not always or necessarily pleasurable.

In her paper “Hoccleve Ludens: Playing With De Ludo Scaccorum in the Regiment of Princes” Amanda Walling further refined what we mean by “play” in Hoccleve’s poems, also finding an anger and a “slipperiness” rather than outright comedy. One type of slipperiness involves gameplay and the association between pieces and their rules for movement, and the categories of persons those pieces represent. Hoccleve’s Regiment draws on Jacobus de Cessolis’s De Ludo Scaccorum, a chess manual and “work of social theory” comprising regulatory play—rules to establish order—and word play useful to its narrator to discuss kings and other figures analogically as chess pieces. Hoccleve’s adaptation downplays regulation of kings but punningly criticizes the exchequer and its late payment of his wages. The wordplay might lessen the critique, but Walling argues that Hoccleve undertook this strategy out of desperation—it underscores how unfunny he thinks his financial quandary is. His treatment of one story from Jacobus comes across as awkward or perhaps unintentionally funny because “tonally inappropriate.” This tale, about a king triumphing over corrupt ministers, appears within the context of the “bureaucratic anxieties” which Hoccleve expresses in the Regiment to be more an indictment of leadership as tyrannical. Overall, Walling views Hoccleve’s manipulation of his sources as representative of his feelings of civil servants being treated as king’s playthings or pawns, and his recognition that the game of power he is implicated in lacks the clear rules of engagement that Jacobus’s does.


Teaching Hoccleve, A Roundtable (Session 401)

If our above panelists stressed Hoccleve’s deservedness of a paycheck, our pedagogy roundtable participants established Hoccleve’s place in Middle English canon and his utility for instructing college students in vernacular poetics and medieval literary culture.

Elon Lang made this point most assertively, detailing his deployment of the Regiment of Princes in an undergraduate Great Books curriculum. A Great Books course introduces students to foundational Western literature furnishing ideas vital to modern informed inquiry, and Lang claims a place for Hoccleve among them because of its theme of leadership and the relationship between civil service and government power. Hoccleve was at the heart of contemporary discourses on educated citizenship and political theory, and has important lessons to offer students regarding these issues in the present day. Lang justifies teaching the entirely of the Regiment and not just the excerpts that often appear in syllabi, because sustained contact with the text causes students to develop language and content analysis skills—the unfamiliar language forces them to slow down and read closely and collaboratively. This strategy avoids pairing the text with its long history of negative academic criticism, and Lang noted that students have no problem accepting the Regiment alongside other pillars of liberal arts education like Aquinas or Shakespeare. To better tackle a difficult text, Lang asks students to collectively create their own rewritings of the material in modern language, then assigns them a “creative reinterpretation” of the poem, a fiction cast within Hoccleve’s fiction of writing for Prince Henry.

Bill Quinn also finds Middle English poetry useful in a history of reading course for leading students toward close reading and attention to the details that would have shaped the medieval reading experience. He overcomes harsh academic judgements on Hoccleve’s metrical skills by finding in the Regiment markers of difference—Hoccleve might not be representative of the era’s most skilled poets, but this is because he had different intentions which are themselves worthy of study and provide a challenge for students of verse form. Quinn finds evidence of the Regiment as a text meant to be delivered orally, but also that Hoccleve foresaw the text being copied and moved around by various hands. For example the rhyme scheme of the envoy scene requires careful attention to the textual artifact as the rhymes would work less well orally, and there are many references throughout the poem to hands and writing but none related to mouths or speaking. Hoccleve’s lines are meant to be “heard” with the fingers, and learning this not only allows students to accept this poet as a legitimate and skilled contributor to Middle English canon, it also offers important evidence on the transition from orality to textuality and what readers wished to get out of the activity.

Nick Myklebust engages with Hoccleve’s canonicity in the literature classroom by teaching a course that pits him against Chaucer. Myklebust noted that transitional texts fit awkwardly into traditional surveys of British literature, and he wishes to capitalize on this difficulty by drawing student attention to questions of periodization and other categorization structures that give meaning to literature. His students use Hoccleve to probe what it means to be medieval or early modern, and what decisions scholars make when they place writers into relative frameworks—such as judging Hoccleve’s merits based on Chaucer’s. While Chaucer’s themes are often “ephemeral” and “slippery,” Hoccleve’s characters and purposes can be easier for students to grasp. So-called marginal literary figures can also help students see why Chaucer himself was important and transformative, as they offer more concrete samples of how literature appeared before and after.

Siobhan Calkin uses Hoccleve in undergraduate courses to illustrate issues of patronage, Lancastrian governance, and Lollardy, but also utilizes Hoccleve’s texts for teaching documentary skills. In a graduate course on medieval authorship and authority she assigns students to work with the Hoccleve Archive, a collection of manuscript images, concordances, collation tables, and other resources. She asks students to produce an edition of a stanza of the Regiment by moving through the various stages a professional editor would. Students transcribe a portion of a manuscript and check their work against crowdsourced transcriptions on the website. They research the assigned manuscript and describe key paleographic features of the scribal hand, contending with issues editors would discuss in text notes.

David Watt put the audience to work by leading them through a manuscript-centered activity he uses in the undergraduate classroom, which he has previously published about in the journal Pedagogy. The activity asks students to think about the medieval reading process by encountering a poem (a roundel from a ballad to Henri Somer) in its varying layers by means of a handout with stages: edited text, appearance in manuscript form in Hoccleve’s own handwriting, and finally context within a whole manuscript page. In this way Watt shows the importance of confronting students with actual manuscript artifacts, and the possibility of doing so when digital or archival resources are not available. Hoccleve’s marginality prevents students from approaching the text through the preconceived notions they might have of a figure like Chaucer, yet unlike anonymous texts students can actually pinpoint the poems’ historical environment.

Far from a dispassionate manuscript study, Stephanie Trigg teaches Hoccleve in a course on medieval passions and presents scenes of intense emotions—the mirror scene of the Series’ “Complaint,” for instance. Students contend with poems that do not use emotion words and whose descriptions of emotional moments are circumscribed, but in which characters are clearly experiencing and performing emotions. Trigg compares Hoccleve with Troilus and Criseyde to draw attention to scenes when a character practices emotionality—Hoccleve his facial expressions in front of a mirror, Troilus the words he wishes to say to Criseyde. Such scenes allow students to address questions of normality and exceptionality in late medieval England, and conceptions of selfhood.

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Call for Papers: The Making of Thomas Hoccleve, University of Manitoba, July 6-8, 2018

In a 2014 Chaucer Review essay, Larry Scanlon argues this is ‘a good time for taking stock’ of critical approaches to Hoccleve and of the future of Hoccleve studies, ‘in part because of Hoccleve’s success, in part because historicism’s influence now seems on the wane’.  Thanks to his topicality and partisanship, Hoccleve’s engagements with politics and power have been explored in some detail in the last twenty-five years, and his place in Middle English studies is now well established.  As scholarship has moved beyond old and new historicisms toward fresh horizons, recent scholars have begun to identify other, less familiar Hoccleves: curial, priestly and clergial Hoccleve, for example, as well as Hoccleve the pacifist or an ascetic self, comparable to Julian of Norwich.  What other Hoccleves will hold the attention of criticism in coming decades?

It is fitting that this question should be the focus of the first conference to be hosted by the International Hoccleve Society ( The aim of the society and of the conference is to map and inspire future directions of research into the making of Thomas Hoccleve by bringing together established and emerging scholars.  We are delighted that Amy Appleford (Boston), Vincent Gillespie (LMH, Oxford), and Stephanie Trigg (Melbourne) will share plenary talks and that Nicholas Watson will respond to the conference as a whole. We now invite papers that consider Hoccleve as a maker of texts and of manuscript books as well as papers that examine the making of his critical reputation. Scanlon argues that Hoccleve offers ‘a wonderful test case for the relation between poetry and ideology’, but which ideologies might be most relevant and most illuminating? We seek papers that will critically examine current positions and break new ground by placing Hoccleve in new cultural contexts and reading his texts from different theoretical perspectives.

We therefore invite scholars to explore a range of questions about Thomas Hoccleve and his making. For example, how might we set his poetry, which is often celebrated for its idiosyncrasies and individuality, in broader frameworks? How might we re-examine its relationship to literary history?  Hoccleve’s closeness to Chaucer is well known but what other early influences, in English, French and Latin, shaped his writing?  Why do he and Lydgate, both writing for the same Lancastrian patrons, each studiously avoid reference to their rival?  Hoccleve is a key early-adopter of Chaucerian language, style, versification and metrical practice.  But Hoccleve also refuses much of Chaucer’s potential legacy (for example the genre of dream-vision, the mode of courtly allegory, narratives of cities of the pagan past such as Troy and Thebes) when Lydgate does not.  Where do those refusals leave Hoccleve in relation to English poetic history and what motivates them?  Did he influence Middle Scots makers, alongside the works of Chaucer, Gower and Lydgate?  What happens to the Lancastrian Regiment of Princes, a popular text surviving in whole or part in nearly fifty manuscripts, during the rule of the House of York?  What can this substantial corpus of manuscripts tell us about the reading of poetry and of political advice in the fifteenth century?

Hoccleve played an active role in the making of his own books as well as the translation of a range of texts drawn from several languages and traditions. Is Charles R. Blyth right that Hoccleve was not ‘widely read’, when his source-texts can be diverse and surprising?  Where and in what forms did Hoccleve encounter these source texts?  What linguistic theories and intentions underpin his translations of orthodox religious writing (especially given the context of Arundel’s Constitutions)?  And what about the diverse audiences for Hoccleve’s own poetry?  Hoccleve wrote not only for fellow civil servants but also for London citizens and members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.  Some works might serve the antifeminist world of ‘London club culture’ (as Derek Pearsall has named it), but other works respond to the interests and reading habits of noblewomen, while Nancy Bradley Warren has put the Regiment in the hands of female monastics in the early sixteenth century. How can Hoccleve studies take account of such diversity while offering a coherent account of this author?  How might new approaches inform our understanding of Hoccleve in this context?

Hoccleve inhabits a middle position between ‘clerical’ and ‘lay’ literary and intellectual cultures, a middle position also characteristic of many of the most interesting cultural and artistic exchanges, relationships and texts of this period.  To make and remake Hoccleve’s literary reputation, as this conference will aim to do, is to also reach new understandings of the uncertain and rapidly changing cultural position of English poetry in the fifteenth century.

We invite proposals for complete sessions and individual presentations. Proposals for complete sessions may take a variety of forms: a set of three, twenty-minute presentations; several position papers, seminar discussions, etc. Proposals for individual presentations should describe a twenty-minute presentation. We ask that all prospective participants (whether members of a complete panel or individual presenters) submit a proposal that describes your contribution that does not exceed 150 words (including the title); we also ask that each participant submit a 100-word explanation of how coming to the conference might contribute to your work. Proposals should be sent by August 31, 2017 to Jenni Nuttall and David Watt via the email address Earlier submissions are welcome.

The International Hoccleve Society is committed to ensuring that students and scholars who wish to present at the conference can be accommodated. We are seeking external support to fund as much of this conference as we can. This is why we are asking for both a very short proposal and an explanation of how this conference might contribute to your work. Although it may not be possible for us to cover all costs for all participants, we hope to secure enough funding to ensure that participation in this conference is not limited for financial reasons. As an additional measure to help overcome financial barriers for students and scholars alike, we have scheduled the conference to take place during the weekend prior to the meeting of the New Chaucer Society in Toronto. This way, scholars from far afield will be able to attend both conferences on a single trip to Canada.

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International Hoccleve Society Sessions at Kalamazoo 2017

This year, the International Hoccleve Society is pleased to be sponsoring two sessions at Kalamazoo, a roundtable on “Teaching Hoccleve,” and a panel on “Hoccleve at Play.” Both of them will take place Saturday afternoon. Contact Danielle Bradley (, who has organized both sessions, with questions or to inquire about how to meet up with International Hoccleve Society members while at Kalamazoo.

Teaching Hoccleve, A Roundtable (Session 401)
Saturday May 13, 1:30pm in Fetzer 1005

Organizer: Danielle Bradley, Rutgers Univ.
Presider: David Watt, Univ. of Manitoba

“A Pedagogical Gambit: Framing Hoccleve as the Anti-Chaucer”
–Nicholas Myklebust, Regis Univ.

“Hoccleve and the Rehearsal of Emotion”
–Stephanie Trigg, Univ. of Melbourne

“Hoccleve’s Hand”
–William A. Quinn, Univ. of Arkansas–Fayetteville

“Teaching Hoccleve’s Regiment of Princes in the Great Books Curriculum”
–Elon Lang, Univ. of Texas–Austin

“Teaching the Regiment in Various Contexts”
–Siobhain Bly Calkin, Carleton Univ.

Session Description:
There is a subtle irony in the fact that Thomas Hoccleve, whose corpus of early fifteenth-century poems is saturated with the concepts of recovery and rehabilitation, has been at the center of a decades-long process of poetic and pedagogic rehabilitation in university English departments. No longer brushed aside as a mere epigone of Geoffrey Chaucer, the traditional nucleus of Medieval English literature syllabi, Hoccleve now claims a legitimate place in the late medieval canon. But what is that place exactly, as far as college classrooms go? The International Hoccleve Society wishes to evaluate current and potential uses of Hoccleve’s poetry in literature, comparative literature, and history curricula. We appeal to instructors to share their experiences teaching Hoccleve to various sorts of university undergraduate, graduate, and secondary-school classrooms, and to recommend lesson plans, assignments and in-class exercises, and pedagogical approaches to Hoccleve’s oeuvre.

One goal is to evaluate the effects of institutional contexts of instruction, for instance the experience of teaching Hoccleve at four-year universities versus community colleges, within history versus literature departments, and for survey courses versus upper-level seminars. What do students find entertaining or surprising about his poetry, and what difficult? What does this teach us about the size of Hoccleve’s rightful place in a syllabus on medieval or late medieval subject matter? Is he rightfully taught as a subordinate within a a post-Chaucerian framework, or can one envision an upper-level undergraduate or graduate literature course focused on Hoccleve? What would that look like?

Secondly, we wish participants to discuss Hoccleve’s role in critical paradigms, including how his poetry might usefully illustrate (or be illustrated by) theories like new historicism, new formalism, feminist and queer theory, narratology, cultural studies, postcolonialism, affect theory, or deconstruction. What opportunities does Hoccleve provide students in questioning medieval genre, periodization, popular spirituality, administrative culture, socio-economic class structures, urban life, political commentary and resistance, or the rise of the individual? Is Hoccleve a useful nexus for interdisciplinarity?


Hoccleve at Play (Session 473)
Saturday May 13, 3:30pm in Schneider 1265

Organizer: Danielle Bradley, Rutgers Univ.
Presider: Elon Lang, Univ. of Texas–Austin

“Does This Stress Make Me Look Fat? Awkwardness in Thomas Hoccleve’s Verse”
–David Watt, Univ. of Manitoba

“Funny Money in Hoccleve’s Begging Poems”
–Taylor Cowdery, Univ. of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

“Play Wor(l)ds: Form, Style, Play at Work in the Ballades of Good Company
–Travis Neel, Ohio State Univ

“Hoccleve Ludens: Playing with De ludo scaccorum in the Regiment of Princes”
–Amanda Walling, Univ. of Hartford

Session Description:
Since Thomas Hoccleve chose to set his “Compleinte,” the opening salvo of his five-poem Series, in the “broun sesoun of Mihelmesse” (an intentional inversion of Chaucer’s springtime “Aprill shoures”), critics of his poetry have been immersed in the depressive and disconsolate overtones of much of his verse. Hoccleve makes this easy—he dwells on his misspent youth and the infirmities of old age, bodily and financial. Malcolm Richardson’s decades-old evaluation of Hoccleve as an “unfortunate poet,” a “slacker” and “failed bureaucrat” remains alive in much current scholarship which scours Hoccleve’s self-admitted defeats and disappointments for evidence of his commentary on fifteenth-century English politics and identity-politics.

While such avenues are certainly fertile, this panel seeks papers that probe Hoccleve’s jocular and imaginative side. What positive emotions are present in Hoccleve’s work, indicative of the humor he may have witnessed in everyday life? What metrical and rhetorical play and humorous subject matter does he engage with in his poetry and prose? We recognize that affect theory is opening new ground for finding meaning in Hoccleve’s expressed madness and rehabilitation, his emotional and psychological state, and the relationships between mental health and late medieval social experience.

Yet as Hoccleve’s existential crisis looms so large in scholarship it becomes hard to imagine the man simply existing at all. We seek another human side of this poet: the playful, the happy, the celebratory.

Jerome Mitchell once noted that “La male regle,” for example, develops a “humourous tone” inherent to the poet’s lived experiences. Affect theory advances this current of Hoccleve study that foregrounds the autobiographical subject—what Bobby Meyer-Lee calls the poet’s “textualization of his identity as a privy seal clerk.” Studies of Hoccleve’s revelatory mode often resuscitate his poetic reputation by stressing his idiosyncratic manipulation of convention towards material, financial ends, as for example Ethan Knapp’s theories on Hoccleve’s participation in—and literary construction of—bureaucratic culture. Not only might Barbara Rosenwein’s concept of “emotional communities” shed light on Hoccleve’s self- and group-constructive rhetorical play, but it might produce a reading of his techniques alternative to the moods of begging or complaint that seem to prevail due to the the scribal nature of his poetic productions. Can we find instead an ironic rather than a workmanlike Hoccleve, performing rather than expressing emotion?

Some potential questions participants may with to address include: Can Hoccleve’s claims to autobiography be inherently a pretense to gamesmanship? His posing among shifting personas be fundamentally playful? Are his failures and faults intended as laughable farce, the awkward encounters in “Male regle” with untrustworthy tavern-keepers, prostitutes and boatmen to be viewed as pranks? Could Hoccleve intend his self-scrutiny in front of the mirror in “My Compleinte” as over-the-top caricature or slapstick comedy? Is the interaction between Thomas and the Regiment prologue’s Old Man a farcical inversion of Boethian consolation, given the Old Man’s unsympathetic advice and insistent dominance of the conversation? When he complains in the Regiment prologue that most people do not understand the difficulty of scribal work but “holde it but a game,” is Hoccleve himself playing a game—a game of contrasting the alienating or solipsizing act of scribal labor to its social cure, poetry? Is the bureaucratic emotional community one joined by playful poetizing as much as it is by poetic petition, resistant to the commodifying pressures of bureaucratic documentation and patronized poetry? Is poetry an escape for the Late Medieval renaissance man, a place for aesthetic play rather than a tool for doing work in the world? How might we model a hermeneutics of humor in Hoccleve’s collected works?

We look forward to your interpretations of how Hoccleve shares a laugh with his cohort.

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The Year in Hoccleve, Volume 4.1 (Spring 2017)

The Newsletter of the International Hoccleve Society, Volume 4.1 (Spring 2017), is available. In the annual newsletter, you will find updates about IHS projects, a bibliography of publications and dissertations in Hoccleve studies, and summaries of important Hoccleve-related events and conference sessions.

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3rd Annual Hoccleve Recovery Day on Social Media

As we have done for the last couple years the International Hoccleve Society is very pleased to be sponsoring the 3rd Annual Hoccleve Recovery Day, this November 1 on social media. We are excited to welcome you and your students to participate by posting something related to our theme (and perhaps to Hoccleve) with the hashtag #Hoccleve at least once on a major social media site like Facebook or Twitter that day. The theme this year is “What are the things we recover?” Our full call is below the line. We really hope you will participate and we look forward to seeing what you’ll post!

The International Hoccleve Society Sponsors the 3rd Annual Hoccleve Recovery Day: “What are the things we recover?”

What are the things that we recover in our working and private lives? To what must we return in order to know ourselves? What things must we wait for–patiently, virtuously–to come back to us? Just as Thomas Hoccleve signals his recovery of mental health in his “Complaint” (lines 50-56) by describing how his memory “went to pleye as for a certayne space” but then “the lorde of vertew…made it to Alle Hallowmesse” we invite you to join us on All Hallows Day (November 1st) to reflect on ideas of recovery and return that inform our lives as medievalists.

The International Hoccleve Society invites you to join us in our social media communities on 1 November 2016 to celebrate Hoccleve’s recovery of his work community, his mental faculties, his routines as an urban office worker and family man, etc. by exploring what you “recover” in your work and other daily activities. What do you return to regularly and what returns to you to guide, animate, and energize your life and habits as a medievalist? What have you recovered recently in your readings, research, internet surfing, filing, or remembering that has made you think about your medieval interests (professional or recreational) and their place in the world?

We invite you to post a short passage of verse or criticism, an image of places, manuscripts, printed books, or people, and/or a brief note reflecting on why certain items or ideas have been or ought to be recovered in our attention. Please identify your posts and tweets on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, LinkedIn and our Website with the hashtag #Hoccleve, and feel free to “like” or “retweet” thematically pertinent items throughout the day under this hashtag. You may also attach other tags (#recovery, #thisiswhataprofessorlookslike, #MiddleEnglish, #MSilluminations, etc.) after #Hoccleve. We will kick off the event with posts on our Society and Hoccleve Lyfe Coache, Twitter and Facebook feeds. So please follow us and like us to stay tuned!


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