School of Humanities and Sciences
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Associate Professor of French and Italian and, by courtesy, of German Studies
BioMarisa Galvez specializes in the literature of the Middle Ages in France and Western Europe, especially the poetry and narrative literature written in Occitan and Old French. Her areas of interest include the troubadours, vernacular poetics, the intersection of performance and literary cultures, and the critical history of medieval studies as a discipline. At Stanford, she currently teaches courses on medieval and Renaissance French literature and love lyric, as well as interdisciplinary upper level courses on the medieval imaginary in modern literature, film, and art.
Her book, Songbook: How Lyrics Became Poetry in Medieval Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2012, awarded John Nicholas Brown Prize from the Medieval Academy of America), treats what poetry was before the emergence of the modern category, “poetry”: that is, how vernacular songbooks of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries shaped our modern understanding of poetry by establishing expectations of what is a poem, what is a poet, and what is lyric poetry itself. The first comparative study of songbooks, the book concerns three vernacular traditions—Occitan, Middle High German, and Castilian—and analyzes how the songbook emerged from its original performance context of oral publication, into a medium for preservation, and finally became a literary object that performs the interests of poets and readers.
Her forthcoming book The Subject of Crusade:Lyric, Romance, and Materials, 1150-1300 (University of Chicago Press, April 2020) examines how the crusader subject of vernacular literature sought to reconcile secular ideals about love and chivalry with crusade. This study places this literature in dialogue with new ideas about penance and confession that emerged from the second half of the twelfth century to the end of the thirteenth. Recent publications related to this project include "The Voice of the Unrepentant Crusader: 'Aler m'estuet' by the Châtelain d'Arras" (Voice and Voicelessness in Medieval Europe, ed. Irit Kleinman, Palgrave) that analyzes how a crusaders poet's unrepentant voice can be viewed as in tension with the confessional voice of pastoral literature, "The Intersubjective Performance of Confession vs. Courtly Profession" (Performance and Theatricality in the MIddle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Markus Cruse, ACMRS) that compares penitential performativity and witnessing in courtly lyric and moral tales; Jehan de Journi’s Disme de Penitanche and the Production of a Vernacular Confessional Text in Outremer" in Medieval Francophone Literary Culture Outside France (Brepols) asks how a confessional text composed by a Cypriot Frank in the thirteenth century is shaped by the political and social contingencies of the Latin East.
Another monograph in progress concerns a transhistorical, interdisciplinary study of crystal as metaphor, material, and object. “Dark Transparencies: Crystal Poetics in Medieval Texts and Beyond,” presents a complex history of crystal that sees the physical effects of the mineral as operating in an experiential or theoretical sense.
Her multi-year Performing Trobar project seeks to cultivate, historicize, and compare the experience of troubadour lyrics in literary and performative modes. In exposing students and the Stanford community to the rich aural and verbal texture of the medieval world, Performing Trobar seeks to animate our engagement with medieval lyric both as a philological artifact and as a vernacular art that continues to be translated before various audiences around the world. Undergraduate and graduate courses on medieval lyric and a summer seminar taught in southern France through Stanford's BOSP program are integral components of Performing Trobar.
At Stanford she serves as Chair of Undergraduate Studies for French and acts as Faculty Director of Structured Liberal Education.
Professor of Religious Studies and, by courtesy, of German Studies, Emerita
BioHester Gelber specializes in late medieval religious thought. She has taught courses on philosophy of religion as well as medieval Christianity. She has written extensively on medieval Dominicans, including: Exploring the Boundaries of Reason: Three Questions on the Nature of God by Robert Holcot OP and most recently It Could Have Been Otherwise: Contingency and Necessity in Dominican Theology at Oxford 1300-1350. She has now retired.
Professor Gelber received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin in 1974 and has taught at Stanford since 1978, beginning as a part-time lecturer in Philosophy before moving to Religious Studies in 1982.
BioI write about intersectional feminism, female friendship, motherhood, matrescence, gender, race, and culture in TV, film, and literature; I'm especially interested in the contemporary feminist first-person essay, the female gaze in image-making, critical whiteness studies, and performances of gender in "prestige" television. I also write and teach on the craft of pitching for writers, how gendered and racinated modes of confidence inform pitching and publishing behaviors, and how emergent writers can build their own paths to publication.
My first book was a young adult novel, SISTER MISCHIEF (Candlewick Press, 2011), which follows an all-girl hip-hop crew in suburban Minnesota; The American Library Association included SM in two annual honor lists, the Amelia Bloomer Project, recognizing excellence in feminist YA literature, and the Rainbow List (Top Ten selection), recognizing excellence in GLBTQ YA. I'm also the author of a collection of poems, BECOME A NAME (Fathom Books, 2016), and with the director Meera Menon, I co-wrote and produced the feature film FARAH GOES BANG, which premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and won the inaugural Nora Ephron Prize from Tribeca and Vogue. My nonfiction work has appeared in publications including BuzzFeed Reader, ELLE, Los Angeles Review of Books, Catapult, Glamour, InStyle, Publishers Weekly, Longreads, The Cut, Refinery29, New Republic, and the anthology SCRATCH: Writers, Money, and The Art of Making a Living. I'm currently working on a novel that examines the long-term effects of sexual violence on relationships between women, and an essay collection about how casual secrecy around class, money, and power in white communities upholds structures of patriarchy and white supremacy.
At Stanford, I serve as a Lecturer in the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, and as the Director of the Humanities Public Writing Project.