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The Juggler of Notre Dame

By mapping out a peculiar kind of medieval trajectory, Ziolkowski provokes us to think about productive meanders that might be carried out in our own fields of interest. In that sense the book is not only an encyclopedic anatomy of the medieval in all its richness but a nursery of  forms with the power to give life to any number of parallel endeavors.  […] His book is continually awakening to new intriguing possibilities.

James H. S. McGregor, University of Georgia, Emeritus, Speculumavailable online

Refreshingly witty and engaging
John NagyNotre Dame Magazineavailable online

A lifetime’s knowledge has been poured into these pages with passion and dedication, and the reader feels, and shares, the author’s enthusiasm along the Juggler’s journey from the Middle Ages to the present. From medieval French manuscripts we follow the tale through early modern religious literature, post-Romantic editorial endeavours, anthologies of national literature and children’s fiction, to modern adaptations in ballet, opera, and the visual arts. Such wide-ranging enterprise is matched by a fluent, witty narrative which succeeds in making complex terminology and concepts accessible to non-specialist readers. As such, the work is a major achievement.
Prof. Barbara Ravelhofer, Durham University

Funny, erudite, compelling, The Juggler of Notre Dame stretches every boundary of what an academic book is. It has given me—and will give all its readers—further permission to extend the definition of the scholarly book. Imaginative, well-researched, genre-bending, this book makes multiple contributions to the fields of medieval history, philology, art history, performance studies, reception theory, and medievalism.
Prof. Kathryn Rudy, University of St Andrews

The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity, published this year by a leading open-access academic press. Its six volumes trace the story from its origins as a medieval French poem, "Our Lady’s Tumbler,” told in 342 rhyming couplets, and its rediscovery in nineteenth-century Paris, feverish with renewed interest in all things Gothic: from Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame to the restoration of churches, monasteries, and monuments destroyed during the Revolution. The book then follows the tale’s translation into English, and its transmission in Britain and the United States, influencing Gothic revivalism in those countries.
Sophia Nguyen, Harvard Magazine, available online
Jan Ziolkowski, the Arthur Kinglsey Porter Professor of Medieval Latin at Harvard, has now dedicated six volumes with some 1,500 illustrations to this tale. They can all be downloaded free of charge and they take us to a new kind of scholarship. [...] Ziolkowski explores the continuing revival of the story of the Juggler of Notre Dame as evidence of how the Middle Ages have been reinvented. He sees the tale of the Juggler, or Dancer, as "holding out the hope of redemption to those who may feel rough around the edges or unskilled in offering themselves [...]"
David Ganz, The Times Literary Supplement, available online

The current political climate and the related outrage culture in social media often silence nuanced voices and elide the emergence of stories that focus on benign forms of medievalism. In addition, most scholars prefer the study of more straightforwardly readable (political) medievalisms and avoid investigating the influential omnipresent residual medievalist continuities related to religion and secularized religious beliefs. Ziolkowski's study is a welcome exception to these current tendencies, engaging with a subject that demonstrates the complex modern web of layers of reception in which religion continues to play a powerful role.
Richard Utz, The Medieval Review

Prof. Ziolkowski also featured in a podcast for Medievalists.net, called the Medieval Podcast hosted by Danièle Cybulskie. To listen to this podcast for free, visit here. 

This vivid six-volume study explores the journey of a single, electrifying story, from its first incarnation as a medieval French poem and continuing through its prolific rebirth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Juggler of Notre Dame tells how an entertainer abandons the world to join a monastery, but is suspected of blasphemy after dancing his devotion before a statue of the Madonna in the crypt; he is saved when the statue, delighted by his skill, miraculously comes to life. Jan Ziolkowski tracks the poem from its medieval roots to its rediscovery in late nineteenth-century Paris, before its translation into English in Britain and the United States, and illuminates its place in mass culture today. Each book is illustrated by a rich trove of images, including book illustrations, stained glass, postage stamps, architecture, and Christmas cards.

The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity comprises six volumes:

Vol. 1: The Middle Ages
Vol. 2: Medieval Meets Medievalism
Vol. 3: The American Middle Ages
Vol. 4: Picture That: Making a Show of the Jongleur
Vol. 5: Tumbling into the Twentieth Century
Vol. 6: War and Peace, Sex and Violence