The most recent edition of the medieval journal, Speculum, contains a thoughtful review by Noelle Phillips of my book. While not as glowing as the reviews I received from Arthuriana and The Medieval Review, Dr Phillips had many generous things to say. I’m well aware that the interdisciplinary nature of Fatherhood and its Representations in Middle English Texts is not everyone’s cup of tea, and I think that given her reservations about my use of mixed sources, her compliments about the work are particularly warm. If you are at an institution with subscription access to Speculum you can read the full review there. Here’s a snippet:
The title of this book indicates the breadth to which it aspires; it addresses both the reality and the literary representations of medieval fatherhood, and it uses literary as well as historical documents. It ambitiously interweaves genres that are usually discussed separately, placing them into dialogue with one another in an unusual interplay of history and literature. While this strategy poses particular challenges, it nevertheless demonstrates Rachel Moss’s comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of texts and her impressive insight into a somewhat understudied topic.
Overall, I enjoyed Moss’s respective analyses of the letters and of the romances; she deftly handles a wide variety of sources and certainly demonstrates her abilities as a literary critic and an historian. However, I did not find that the pairing of these genres—at least in this kind of format—to be particularly helpful in enhancing my understanding of them. I would have preferred the author to maintain a primary focus on one genre, while occasionally using the second to contextualize and illuminate. I do, after all, agree with Moss that insights from the letters can help us understand the romances, and vice versa. Despite my quibbles with the hermeneutic strategy she used, however, I was impressed by the depth and comprehensiveness of Moss’s analysis in this book and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.