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, 1150-1300 (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.