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Title: Chaucerian metapoetics and the philosophy of poetry
Author: Workman, Jameson Samuel
ISNI:       0000 0003 8319 1756
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis places Chaucer within the tradition of philosophical poetry that begins in Plato and extends through classical and medieval Latin culture. In this Platonic tradition, poetry is a self-reflexive epistemological practice that interrogates the conditions of art in general. As such, poetry as metapoetics takes itself as its own object of inquiry in order to reinforce and generate its own definitions without regard to extrinsic considerations. It attempts to create a poetic-knowledge proper instead of one that is dependant on other modes for meaning. The particular manner in which this is expressed is according to the idea of the loss of the Golden Age. In the Augustinian context of Chaucer’s poetry, language, in its literal and historical signifying functions is an effect of the noetic fall and a deformation of an earlier symbolism. The Chaucerian poems this thesis considers concern themselves with the solution to a historical literary lament for language’s fall, a solution that suggests that the instability in language can be overcome with reference to what has been lost in language. The chapters are organized to reflect the medieval Neoplatonic ascensus. The first chapter concerns the Pardoner’s Old Man and his relationship to the literary history of Tithonus in which the renewing of youth is ironically promoted in order to perpetually delay eternity and make the current world co-eternal to the coming world. In the Miller’s Tale, more aggressive narrative strategies deploy the machinery of atheism in order to make a god-less universe the sufficient grounds for the transformation of a fallen and contingent world into the only world whatsoever. The Manciple’s Tale’s opposite strategy leaves the world intact in its current state and instead makes divine beings human. Phoebus expatriates to earth and attempts to co-mingle it with heaven in order to unify art and history into a single monistic experience. Finally, the Nun’s Priest’s Tale acts as ars poetica for the entire Chaucerian Performance and undercuts the naturalistic strategies of the first three poems by a long experiment in the philosophical conflict between art and history. By imagining art and history as epistemologically antagonistic it attempts to subdue in a definitive manner poetic strategies that would imagine human history as the necessary knowledge-condition for poetic language.
Supervisor: Gillespie, Vincent Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; English and Old English literature ; Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; Intellectual History ; Literatures of Romance languages ; Italic literatures,i.e.,Latin ; Medieval music ; Christianity and Christian spirituality ; Art ; Philosophy ; Ancient philosophy ; Theology and Religion ; Medieval philosophy ; Geoffrey Chaucer ; Canterbury Tales ; metapoetics ; Plato ; Neoplatonism ; metaphor ; philosophy ; Nun's Priest's Tale ; historicism ; Pardoner's Tale ; Miller's Tale ; Manciple's Tale ; Ovid