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Title: Looking at t'other : Robert Thornton's Yorkshire Oryent, c.1400-1473
Author: Bartlett, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 4616
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines the place of the 'Oryent' in the socio-cultural milieu of Robert Thornton, a member of the North Riding gentry, circa 1400-1473. Using the figure of Thornton, and his two manuscripts, Lincoln, Lincoln Cathedral Library MS 91 and London, British Library MS Additional 31042, as a way of entering into this cultural landscape, it situates them in their historical and geographical contexts in order to explore the representations, reception of, and attitudes towards the people and material culture of the 'Oryent' (employing Thornton's own orthography and usage to define this region) as found in Thornton's socio-cultural sphere. By then exploring both the cultural landscape, and the ideas presented by the manuscripts themselves, this thesis argues that, counter to much current critical thinking, those of Thornton's circle possessed a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the 'Oryent', and its people, the Jews and so-called 'Saracens'. Firstly it examines the real contemporary presence and usages of 'Oryental' foodstuffs, fabrics and animals throughout Yorkshire. It then explores the remembered presence of the Jews, the evoked presence of the Holy Land in the city of York, and how these cultural memories influenced the experience of reading the alliterative romance Siege of Jerusalem. Finally it investigates the imagined literary figure of the Saracen, as located in Thornton's manuscripts, how this figure was informed by scholastic ideas, and how these ideas impacted upon thoughts concerning Saracen conversion to Christianity. The thesis concludes that the Yorkshire literati enjoyed a sustained, informed and positive interaction with 'Oryental' material culture that contrasted strongly with their hostile - yet still deeply considered - attitude towards the Jews, whilst their attitude towards the Saracens was more nuanced and, again, had been thought through thoroughly.
Supervisor: Ormrod, W. Mark ; McDonald, Nicola Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available