Une moult estrange chose : encounters with the alien in Burgundian prose literature C.1445-1468
Under Philip the Good (1419-1467) the Burgundian Netherlands reached their political, territorial, and artistic apogee, a position gained not without the making and breaking of certain alliances. Particularly precarious was the relationship between Burgundy and die France of Charles VII. Following the signing of the Treat)' of Arras m 1435 the two parties enjoyed not the intended 'particular peace’ but a series of renewed hostilities which peaked in the period from around 1440 onwards. This turbulence provides the socio-cultural backdrop to this thesis. It is, 1 argue here, more than coincidental that this same time-period saw the emergence at the Burgundian court of a new literary phenomenon, the so-called mise en prose, or the Uterar)' product of rendering an earher verse source into a more legible form for the court. The verse sources in question are Francophone in origin; the choice and particular means of adapting these texts from c.1445 onwards can be seen as a literary response to the historical circumstances of then production. In this thesis 1 offer a close reading of a representative corpus of mises en prose through the model of Alienness, a reading-strategy developed out of themes manifested in the texts, but not limited to the thematic. Alienness functions like Terence Cave's textual 'felure', and allows die location of an element in the text’s unconscious through the retroactive glance of the modern critic. Through this model 1 illustrate how what 1 term Alien features of and in the text can provide not only a picture of the especial practices of adaptation and reworking adopted by the Burgundian authors but also elucidate a programme of metatextual identity-formation at court. Through locating the mises en prose m their historical context, and engaging with the corpus on a literary-critical rather than philological level, 1 postulate a new and more meaningful way of reading this misrepresented genre.