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Title: Naming and namelessness in English and French medieval romance
Author: Bliss, Jane
ISNI:       0000 0000 5129 9293
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2004
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This study aims to demonstrate that naming and namelessness are among the major themes of romance. Because the genre is notoriously difficult to define, many scholars consider romance as containing a critical number of themes: chivalry, love, questing, the marvellous, the progress of a hero(ine). Name is linked to many of these, and can be a main theme in its own right even in romances outside the Matiere de Bretagne. And name is closely entangled with supporting themes such as honour and courtoisie, disguise and incognito, secrecy and recognition. Romance's relationship with contemporary naming-theory is also explored. As a new genre, it is free to play with naming as other genres, with their relatively stable naming-patterns, are not. A romance may contain a great many names or almost none; it may question names or, taking them as given, focus on their power. Because it is concerned more with how name means (that is, what the name can do for the story) than with what names mean, it is broadly nominalist. The familiar medieval etymologizing, commoner in other genres, is realist in that it claims to demonstrate the real essence or meaning in a person's name. The thesis is divided into two main sections. The first analyzes a range of individual romances to show how the naming-theme is treated differently in each. The second begins with naming as a function of genre: most scholars have a good notion of what romance is, and the examples show that to read a text with an eye to its naming-patterns helps confirm one's notion of whether it is a romance or not. Finally a number of sub-themes and stylistic or rhetorical devices are discussed, all of which foreground naming and namelessness. Because of its playful uses of name, romance offers no naming-theory of its own. It does, however, draw inspiration not only from learned but also from folklore sources, in which name-magic and namelessness are crucial. These factors conspire to make a concern with naming conventional, even in romances whose writers show no concern with philosophy.
Supervisor: Pope, Rob ; Cooper, Helen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral