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Title: Delineating the Gawain-poet : myth, desire, and visuality
Author: Hu, Hsin-Yu
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis adopts an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on literary, art historical and textual sources to examine how the act of looking, images, and artistic and textual creation are both dramatized and problematized in the works of the Gawain-poet: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (with some discussion of St Erkenwald, a work often attributed to the same author). Analyzing in detail the texts and illustrations in the Gawain-manuscript (British Library, Cotton MS Nero A.x), the thesis argues that the poet weaves together classical and biblical narratives, along with exegetical and iconographic traditions, in shaping his distinctive reflections on the use and making of images, body and performance, in response to late fourteenth-century religious controversies. The thesis starts by tracing a network of ideas about gaze, sin, body and text through late-medieval biblical and mythographical texts and images. Working text-by-text through the poet’s oeuvre, it then discusses the use of Ovidian materials and the motif of metamorphosis in his complex meditation on ethical and specifically gendered practices of reading, writing and looking. It concludes by assessing the poet’s idea of poetic creation and his own role as a creative artist. In doing so, it suggests that the poet’s self-conscious artistry works together with a consistent emphasis on humility in human’s relations with the divine. The thesis contributes to a growing scholarly interest in the Gawain-illustrations, and a developing focus on visuality in studies of late-medieval devotional and literary works. By linking the analysis of classical/biblical intertexts, visual traditions and the manuscript’s own illustrated texts, it suggests a fresh area of study for the Gawain-poet and his milieux.
Supervisor: Perkins, Nicholas E. R. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Visual art and representation ; English and Old English literature ; the Gawain-poet ; medieval manuscripts ; visual art