Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Wisconsin is not Michigan (Where's Troy?)

Last week, I posted a blog posting on "In The Middle" about an inventive re-imagining of Chaucer's "Troilus and Crysede" - Francesca Abbate's Troy, Unincorporated (2012) re-tells the story of love and betrayal through a series of lyric monologues, and the story is set in the present-day in a place called Troy, Wisconsin.

In my original posting, however, I misidentified the town in question as Troy, *Michigan.*  Let me assure you that I very much know that WISCONSIN IS NOT MICHIGAN and these places are, like, two totally two different states and everything.

This is not to make excuses for myself, but I might attribute my morning error to a late-night Facebook conversation: someone saw a link I had posted about Abbate's book and said that she wished the book had been set in Troy, MI, instead - but she came around once I her that there is indeed a real unincorporated town of Troy in WI, and that Abbate herself lives and works in WI. Perhaps that conversation made me dream of "Troy, MI" during the night and when I woke in the morning I couldn't dislodge that idea from my brain.

Of course, in Chaucer's day, Troy was already a strangely translated/transported city: London styled itself as Troynovant (New Troy), and the way Chaucer's representations of ancient Troy evokes his own contemporary London city life has been richly explored - see Sylvia Federico, New Troy (2003); Marion Turner, Chaucerian Conflict (2007); and Ruth Evans, "The Production of Space in Chaucer's London," in Chaucer and the City, ed. Ardis Butterfield (2006). Troy is always "here" and "not here," perpetually dislocated from itself. As far as the US is concerned, this "translatio urbis" (shall we say?) can be seen in the number of place-names: a search of US cities reveals *multiple* places named Troy (WI, MI, and 17 other states) but also Athens (14 states), Carthage (11 states), Rome (8 states), Ithaca (5 states), Jerusalem (2 states), and a solitary Thebes (IL).

Thankfully, Blogger allows you go back in and edit your postings - so I fixed this city-translation error at ITM. I can say I sincerely meant no offense to any Midwesterners (Michiganders *and* Wisconsinites) who saw the post before it was corrected!

-Jonathan Hsy

P.S. Thanks to Ben Tilghman - Wisconsinite and inventor of the name "Fumblr" - for bringing the "Troy, MI" error to my attention.

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