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Title: Embodiment and allegory in 'Piers Plowman'
Author: Wilford, Beatrice Kate
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 491X
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis argues that Langland's bodies are of fundamental importance to his allegory. Langland sees the body as the principle vehicle through which the words and ideas in his poem can be explored. He understands language as deeply embodied. Piers Plowman establishes a hermeneutics of flesh in which concepts are explored through their effects on bodies. The apparent opposition in Piers's allegory between the material and the abstract is a result of Langland's belief in the importance of the body and the influence it has on meaning. Ultimately, the body represents union with God through the incarnation and so understanding and using its insights is paramount. The first chapter explores representations of the body and the soul, the incarnation, and the relationship between personifications and words to establish how the poem theorises the interaction of flesh with matter. The second chapter argues that clothing and signs on the body are rejected as ways of displaying meaning by Langland in favour of depictions of meaning upon the bodies of personifications and other characters. The third chapter describes the 'capture' of bodies by meaning as a violent process endemic to allegory that Langland openly explores as a way of understanding how bodies interact with the conceptual. In the final chapter, the idea of Langland as a poet concerned with the bodily is examined through metaphor theory. Piers emerges as a poem that uses its reader's own body as a basis for its complex ideas, thus establishing a physical link between Langland and his readers. This thesis finds, in Langland, a poet who believes the body should be at the centre of textuality and who uses allegory to open up and explore the intersections between bodies and words.
Supervisor: Warner, Seth Lawrence ; Salih, Maha Sarah Abdulelah Lloyd Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available