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Stolen SongHow the Troubadours Became French$
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Eliza Zingesser

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501747571

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501747571.001.0001

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Of Birds and Madmen

Of Birds and Madmen

Occitan Songs in French Songbooks

(p.49) Chapter 1 Of Birds and Madmen
Stolen Song
Eliza Zingesser
Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the first set of sources to transcribe the corpus of troubadour song: the corpus of francophone songbooks. After tracing the contours of the corpus of Occitan song in French songbooks, it turns to the various mechanisms that obscure the cultural and linguistic alterity of Occitan song in its francophone transmission in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. These include, alongside Gallicization and geographical remapping, anonymization and the compilation of Occitan songs amid francophone songs rather than in a separate section of the manuscript. When troubadour song was demarcated in some way, it was staged not as a foreign cultural artifact but instead as something whose strangeness came from its status as non- or only quasi-human. Indeed, troubadour song was repositioned as avian rather than foreign. The chapter then reveals a fundamental ambivalence in the reception of Occitan song in francophone territories: on the one hand, and most frequently, it was actively assimilated, allowing for easier appropriation, and, on the other, it was exoticized by being remapped onto an axis not of cultural alterity but of species difference.

Keywords:   troubadour song, francophone songbooks, Occitan song, French songbooks, anonymization, francophone songs, francophone territories, cultural alterity, linguistic alterity

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