We’re all very discontented here!

Someone explain to me. What’s with the formula ‘Thing X and it’s discontents’?

Here are a short list of things which, according to titles of books I encounter on my researches, have discontents:

– Heterosexuality (Sylvia Huot, ‘Heterosexuality and its discontents’, a chapter of Madness in Medieval French Literature)* Incidentally, that was the chapter I was trying to think of yesterday, the one that talks about the trope where we go around accusing dudes of preferring other dudes if they reject ladies.

– Sexuality (which has specifically queer discontents, according to Tyson Pugh)

– Romance Society (Simon Meecham-Jones, specifically of the Song of Dermot and the Normans in Ireland)

– Sociability (Thomas Cohen)

– Litanies (Felice Lifshitz, specifically of gender in litanies)

– Money (James M. Murray, concerning the city of Bruges)

And on and on it goes. I ran a keyword search for ‘medieval discontents’ and got a full page of results, and that’s just from things with all the proper metadata in Fisher’s catalogue.

Is this some kind of in-joke or theoretical reference I’m missing? Or are we just all grumpy people? Also, I gather from the James Murray book and the one on anti-semitism which turned up in the keyword search that it’s not just lit scholars who are discontented. What gets the discontent buzzword in your field?


* Sure, heterosexuality has its discontents. But cheer up! According to Carolyn Dinshaw it has consolations, too. #things you probably knew already


2 Responses to “We’re all very discontented here!”

  1. [c] Says:

    “Is this some kind of in-joke or theoretical reference I’m missing?”

    I’m afraid it is – the point of reference, I believe, would be Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents. Well, you know how getting Freudian on the Middle Ages is all the rage with a certain segment of the academic community these days…

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