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Title: The Romance of the Rose in fourteenth-century England
Author: Knox, Philip
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis traces the afterlife of the Romance of the Rose in fourteenth-century England. Whether it was closely imitated or only faintly recalled, I argue that the Rose exercised its influence on fourteenth-century English literature in two principal ways. Firstly, in the development of a self-reflexive focus on how meaning is produced and transmitted. Secondly, in a concern with how far the author's intentions can be recovered from a work, and to what extent the author must claim some responsibility for the meaning of a text after its release into the world of readers. In the Rose, many of these issues are presented through the lens of a disordered erotic desire, and questions of licit and illicit textual and sexual pleasures loom large in the later responses. My investigation focuses on four English writers: William Langland, John Gower, the Gawain-Poet, and Geoffrey Chaucer. In my final chapter I suggest that the Rose ceased to be a generative force in English literature in the fifteenth century, and I try to offer some explanations as to why. In examining the influence of the Rose in England I am not trying to suggest a linear transmission of cultural dominance, but rather a complex and plural process of interaction that expands to include texts that both antedate and post-date the Rose - especially Neoplatonic allegories and Ovid, on the one hand, and, on the other, Deguileville and Machaut. The individual English writers I look at are not seen as having a single and stable attitude towards the Rose; instead, I argue, the Rose emerges as a way of thinking about the interaction between texts, how meaning is produced, and how authorial ownership is claimed or refused. Using not only literary evidence but also detailed archival research into the manuscript circulation of the Rose, I question the usefulness of 'English' and 'French' as critical categories for the study of late-medieval literature, and attempt to show that, for a certain kind of literary activity, the Rose occupied a central position in England: not a stable foundation of cultural authority, but a realm of self-questioning subversion and instability.
Supervisor: Perkins, Nicholas ; Swift, Helen J. Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Transmission of texts--History--To 1500 ; English literature--Middle English ; 1100-1500--History and criticism ; Allegory