Michelle "Mickey" Sweeney
Michelle "Mickey" Sweeney enjoys an old-fashioned romance as much as the next person. And although her love of the genre is of a more scholarly nature, that doesn't mean she ignores all the love and lust in such tales.
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"Some of the greatest works of literature have more than a little steamy romance in them," says Sweeney, an Assistant Profesor of English at the University of Missouri - Rolla in the United States. "And that's part of the reason they've endured the test of time. Everyone still wants to know how the ending works out."
Sweeney's first book, Magic in Medieval Romance, was recently published by Four Courts Press of Ireland. In the book, she investigates and discusses works ranging from 12th century French romances to Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, which dates back to the 14th century.
"I wanted to examine the roles magic plays in facilitating an author's quest to incorporate political and moral themes into the heart of complex romances," Sweeney says. "Look at any famous love tale from this period and you'll find it full of witchcraft, magic potions and the lot."
Sweeney says 10th through 15th century romantic plots can be as accessible and certainly as engaging as any modern soap opera. She adds that students in her British Literature course at UMR are finding a lot to talk about after reading classic works like "Beowulf" and "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight."
"The students here are some of the best I've ever worked with. They are very interested in questing ideas of honor, love, loyalty and morality," says Sweeney, who joined UMR this summer after spending 10 years studying and lecturing at Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin.
Sweeney is now editing a second book, Borderlines: New Criticism in Medieval Studies, a scholarly look at medieval literature from the perspectives of critics in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
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