Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Cristina Maria Cervone

Email Address: cmcrvone@memphis.edu

Project Description: The work is to support my monograph-in-progress, Vernacular Poetics of Metaphor: Middle English and the Corporate Subject. How do we recognize an “other sense” that springs to life from metaphor? While the nature of metaphor is contested and its neurological mechanisms not well understood, metaphor studies is a vibrant, multidisciplinary field. Yet, most theorists have set aside “literary” uses to study “ordinary” language. This book brings cognitive theory to bear on medieval texts and, conversely, sees value for metaphor theorists in medieval linguistic innovations and the poetics that fostered them. In the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, when English writers increasingly selected Middle English (as against Anglo-French and Latin) for their thought experiments, metaphor was an important element in—perhaps even vital to—the vernacular’s emerging qualities. I take as a case study a metaphor vibrantly productive in medieval thought, as it is today: the body as used to represent individuality within unity, or “each of us” and “all of us” (“body of Christ”; “student body”). My claim that metaphor plays a significant role in English’s development is new; moreover, it engages questions of contemporary interest: how does thought work? Is metaphor fundamental to thought? Medieval practice, like current theory, suggests perhaps so.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Applicants should be detail-oriented and meticulous. Must have a Mac laptop and be comfortable with using software on a Mac. Reading knowledge of Middle English is desirable but not required; French and Latin are also helpful. English Honors students given preference. Hours per week are flexible, by arrangement (it is possible to set up your schedule to avoid working during your busiest time of the semester).

This project covers a range of disciplines and thus offers possibilities for students working in many areas; to some extent this position is customizable according to student interests and background. In particular, students pursuing one or more of the following may find the work especially rewarding: medieval studies, poetics, linguistics, cognitive studies, metaphor, drama, music, and history. A first stage project is to update a research database from a backlog of notes and to transfer files to pdfs. Research responsibilities include finding relevant books and articles and in some cases summarizing their arguments. This term I am also seeking support for a second, collaborative project on medieval lyric. Work on this project will entail quotation-checking and bibliographic work; the lyric project will give the student researcher experience with early stages of book publication.

Application Process:  E-mail Dr. Cervone to schedule an interview

Starting Date: Flexible

Method of Compensation:  stipend $10/hour