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Marisa Galvez

Professor of French and Italian
Professor, by courtesy, of German Studies and Comparative Literature
Director, French and Italian
Director, Structured Liberal Education
Chair of Graduate Studies, French Program
Ph.D., Stanford University
B.A., Yale University
Marisa Galvez

Marisa 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 first 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 second book, The Subject of Crusade: Lyric, Romance, and Materials, 1150-1500 (University of Chicago Press, 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. Subject argues that poetic articulations are crucial for understanding the crusades as a complex cultural and historical phenomenon, and examines another version of speaking crusades, in which lyric, romance and materials such as tapestries, textiles, and tombstones manifest ambivalence about crusade ideals.
She is currently working on the following projects:
A monograph in progress concerns a transhistorical, interdisciplinary study of crystal as metaphor, material, and object. “Dark Transparencies: Crystal Poetics in Medieval Texts and Beyond,” and more recently “Crystal Desire in Medieval Texts and Beyond” an essay in Seeking Transparency: Rock Crystals Across the Medieval Mediterranean, ed. Cynthia Hahn and Avinoam Shalem (2020) presents a complex history of crystal that sees clear quartz as shaping ideas about erotic desire in an experiential or theoretical sense.
Another project looks at the phenomenon of "unthought medievalism": it examines how contemporary artists and poets deeply engage with medieval culture—including its oral, ritual, and performative features—and how they translate this medieval textuality through other media such as architecture, experimental poetry, and sculpture to produce active life forms. Recent article here. The monograph based on this project, tentatively entitled Unthought Medievalism: Lyric Knowing and the Premodern Global South argues that creative engagements with medieval lyric forms offer an alternative approach to Eurocentric comparison and new methodologies for studying intangible cultural heritages of the Global South.
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 Faculty Director of Structured Liberal Education.

SLE Documentary
Troubadours Art Ensemble: Stanford Visit
Overview of Performing Trobar course FRENCH 205: Songs of Love and War, interview wtih Prof. Galvez
Documentaries on student projects in FRENCH 205: 
Songs of Love and War Course Documentary by Kim Hayworth  
Songs of Love and War Course Documentary 2 by Kim Hayworth 
Songs of Love and War Course Documentary 3 by Kim Hayworth


(650) 723 1918
Pigott Hall, Bldg 260, Rm 134

Fields of Interest

the troubadours, vernacular poetics, the intersection of performance and literary cultures, and the critical history of medieval studies as a discipline