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Title: Romance and the literature of religious instruction, c.1170-c.1330
Author: Reeve, Daniel James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 2540
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis investigates the relations between romance and texts of religious instruction in England between c.1170–c.1330, taking as its principal textual corpus the exceptionally rich literary traditions of insular French romance and religious writing that subsist during this period. It argues that romance is a mode which engages closely with religious and ethical questions from a very early stage, and demonstrates the discourses of opposition in which both kinds of text participate throughout the period. The thesis offers substantial readings of a number of neglected insular French religious texts of the thirteenth century, including Robert Grosseteste's Chasteau d'Amour, John of Howden's Rossignos, and Robert of Gretham's Miroir, alongside new readings of romances such as Gui de Warewic and Ipomedon. This juxtaposition of romance narrative and religious instruction sheds new light onto both kinds of text: romance emerges as a mode with deep-rooted didactic qualities; insular French religious literature is shown to be intensely concerned with the need to compete with romance’s entertaining appeal in literary culture. This oppositional discourse profoundly affects the form of instructional writing and romance alike. The discussion of the interactions between insular French romance and instructional literature presented here also serves as a new pre-history of Middle English romance. The final chapter of the thesis offers several new readings of texts from the Auchinleck manuscript, including the canonical romance Sir Orfeo and the neglected, puzzling Speculum Gy de Warewyk. These readings demonstrate that fourteenthcentury romance intelligently adapts the material it inherits from Francophone literature to a new cultural situation. In these acts of reformation, Middle English romance reveals itself as a discursive space capable of accommodating a wide range of ethical and ideological affiliations; the complex negotiations between romance and instructional literature in the preceding centuries are an important cultural condition for this widening of possibilities.
Supervisor: Ashe, Laura Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; English & Old English language ; Literatures of Romance languages ; French ; Medieval literature ; Anglo-Norman ; Middle English ; medieval romance ; religious literature ; hagiography