Fern’s Annotations on Sources

Annotated Bibliographies



Secondary Sources:

#1) Aveni, Anthony F. “February’s Holidays: Prediction, Purification, and Passionate Pursuit.” In The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays, 29–46. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Aveni is an anthropologist and astronomer who published this book on the history of popular American holidays. He traces the origin myths of Valentine’s day back to the typically cited stories of the Roman Festival and St. Valentine; however, he argues that the link between Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem (and English medieval romantic poet) about love birds and St. Valentine remains a mystery that is hard to uncover. Furthermore, he demonstrates how America’s consumer culture and romanticism period in the mid-19th century brought about a new face to the holiday in the United States. His audience for this book is the general public interested in learning more about American holidays. His tone is very casual and conversational, although still scholarly in that collates and presents a well-researched narrative on the history of Valentine’s day. This is a good beginner’s summary.

#2) Reames, Sherry L. Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine by Henry Ansgar Kelly (Review). Vol. 10. Studies in the Age of Chaucer. The New Chaucer Society, 1988.

Reames seems to be a scholar who writes on English saints, and she wrote a book review on Asgar’s book about the romantic poet Geoffrey Chaucer and his link to the Cult of St. Valentine. She argues that Asgar, without saying it, is responding to an argument proposed by another scholar of the field Jack B. Oruch. I included this source because Asgar’s actual book seems relevant to me, but not so relevant that I would need to read the whole book (it’s out of print and I would have to ILL it). Reading a book review to get the gist of seemed good enough, so Reames review is less important to me than what Reames tells me about the content of the book.

#3) Lee, Ruth Webb. A History of Valentines. New York: The Studio Publications, Inc., 1952.

Lee’s book is to “paint a bird’s eye view” of different valentines’ styles and development over time both in European culture and later American culture. Her arguments most relevant to me is where she claims there is a connection between St. Valentine, the Roman festival, and modern day notions of St. Valentine’s Day, despite what the skeptics say. Her book is intended for academic audiences.

#4)*KEY SOURCE: Schmidt, Leigh Eric. “The Fashioning of a Modern Holiday: St. Valentine’s Day, 1840-1870.” Winterthur Portfolio 28, no. 4 (December 1993): 209–45. https://doi.org/10.1086/496627.

Schmidt is a religious historian and probably the most important scholar for my topic. He has written numerous books beyond the subject of Valentine’s Day, but his work certainly includes my niche topic. This article argues that the change of this holiday into a modern American holiday involves a long, complicated holiday that stems from the Roman Festival and myths of St. Valentine’s day through various folk customs, 19th century middle-class romantic notions, and consumer & market changes in the United States. These market changes, he says,also came with a pushback of the loss of authentic, genuine celebration for the sake of superficial commercialization.

#5) KEY SOURCE: Schmidt, Leigh Eric. “St. Valentine’s Day Greeting.” In Consumer Rites: The Buying & Selling of American Holidays, 38–104. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995.

This source essentially argues the same as the above sources, but provides more details. The chapters are fairly similar.

Tertiary Sources (In Progress):

#1) Dyk, Natalie Van. “The Reconceptualization of Valentine’s Day in the United States: Valentine’s Day as a Phenomenon of Popular Culture.” Bridges: An Undergraduate Journal of Contemporary Connections 1, no. 1 (2013): 1–5.

Van Dyk is a undergraduate scholar at Wilfred Laurier University and argues that the American consumer culture, changing print culture, and mass-production era is what commercialized the holiday. Her source is mostly helpful because of her bibliography and overview of information. (SSR #1 on this).

#2) Lepore, Jill. “Wonder Woman’s Secret Past,” September 22, 2014. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/22/last-amazon.

To Read.


Secondary Sources:

#1 Kreil, Aymon. “The Price of Love: Valentine’s Day in Egypt and Its Enemies.” Arab Studies Journal 24, no. 2 (Fall 2016): 128–46.

This article was written by an anthropologist and scholar of Middle East Studies looking to understand the changing notions of “love” and “marriage” in Egyptian society. In order to do so, he interviews residents from Cairo to understand their views on Valentine’s day and uses the holiday as a case study for understanding various socio-historical and cultural changes that have taken place in the modern period of Egypt (1950s-early 2000s). He argues that Valentine’s Day is become more popular and common with the younger generation, who sees it as a way to build love, intimacy, and relationships at a time when marriage is becoming less common for various reasons: financials burdens, religious, etc. These are coming with a pushback from the older generations and religious leaders as well.

#2) Oruch, Jack B. “St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February.” Speculum 56, no. 3 (July 1981): 534–65. https://doi.org/10.2307/2847741.

Jack Oruch is a scholar of English specializing in Medieval and Early Modern English Literature, and I thought it was relevant to include this article because it is precisely the article that Henry Ansgar Kelly responds to in his book,  Chaucer and the Cult of St. Valentine (for which I annotated a book review). He argues that it is reasonably possible to assume the “Valentine” mentioned in Chaucer’s poem, a poem which helped to form the current understanding of Valentine’s Day as we celebrate it today, is talking about the patron St. Valentine. He initially argues that the claims seemed unfound, but then his own research from church documents across the 4th-15th century lead him to believe a connection is possible. (This article is on a technical debate on the origins of Valentine’s Day and the validity of certain claims.)

#3) Schmidt, Leigh Eric. “The Commercialization of the Calendar: American Holidays and the Culture of Consumption, 1870-1930.” The Journal of American History 78, no. 3 (1991): 887–916. https://doi.org/10.2307/2078795.

This scholar is the most famous leading expert in my field. While his other articles and books have addressed Valentine’s day more specifically, this article gives a more broader view of American Holidays and consumer culture’s impact on them. He argues that commercialization did not RID, but rather complicated the nature of religious/family values. He specifically looks at Mother’s Day to argue how it was invented in 1908 and then immediately used by florists to try to sell their flowers. Later, other holidays like Father’s Day were invented for a similar reason to sell to consumers. The article also explores the limits to commercialization, arguing that the process wasn’t as successful as tradespeople and shop-sellers tried to profit from various holidays and how the consumer culture came about, through trade journals, advertisements, show windows and greetings cards.

Tertiary Sources
(These sources are not scholarly, yet relevant and helpful):

#1) Arnie Seipel. “The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day.” NPR, February 13, 2011. https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day.

Arnie Seipel is a journalist at NPR, working for the “Washington Desk” as an editor. He mostly writes on political issues from the capitol, but this article argues that Valentine’s initially began with the Roman Festival Lupercalia, where men would run around drunk and beating women, who thought that would make them more fertile. The article is a bit sensationalist and leaves out many details I found in my scholarly sources. It goes on to say that Chaucer and Shakespeare picked up on the notions of Valentine’s Day and “romanticized” it in their works, from which greeting cards became popular. He uses this moment as a launching point into the commercialization of the holiday as it has evolved significantly into today.  It is written for an audience like us, educated lay people who read NPR as a source of reliable news. It was written the day before V-day in 2011 for obvious reasons.

#2) “The Parlement of Foules | Poem by Chaucer.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed February 18, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Parlement-of-Foules.

This is a very short entry on a poem written by Chaucer, a very famous English medieval poet whose poem Parlement of Foules mentions birds, lovers, and Valentine. Important information for my project is that this entry explains how the 699 poem is one of the most famous in the English language, dealing with birds who gather to choose their mates on Valentine’s Day. The birds are symbolic, representing a different facet of English society, and the poem was meant to “satirize the tradition of courtly love.” The audience anyone interested in learning more about this poem, someone like me for this project.

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