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Title: Highlighting hair : what can be revealed about reading hair in medieval Welsh literature
Author: Hopwood, Hanna Gwen
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 2080
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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In this thesis I examine in detail the role hair plays in Welsh medieval literature, predominantly in the work of the poets of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries known as the Cywyddwyr, but also in the Mabinogion. While the messages are sometimes ambiguous, the exercise of examining them can nevertheless deepen our understanding of the cultural and social context in which the men and women of Wales played out their lives. In a short Part One, we see how in recent decades many studies have considered the semiotics of the body, but how in medieval scholarship, opportunities have been missed by taking for granted some of the social constructs such as the traditional link between a woman's hair and her beauty, and the dominance of the male figure, omissions which this thesis will seek to redress. To help interpret the signs transmitted by different hairstyles in the period, this first part also outlines some relevant aspects of the value systems of medieval society, in particular the division between men and women, and the conflicting expectations imposed on women by contemporary notions of virtues and ideals. The main body of the thesis focuses on the texts themselves, and for the first time draws together the plethora of references to the hair of both men and women, offering translations into English of all the extracts examined. Part Two looks in detail at women's hair, considering briefly how a close analysis of the poems to hair might pose a challenge to the traditional distinctions between the Canu Serch and Canu Mawl categorisation. Part Three considers men's hair, including, of course, their beards. This side-by-side approach is important as it goes part of the way towards bucking the trend of treating men and women in isolation, appreciating that to understand either sex fully, they need to be discussed in the same arena.
Supervisor: Charles-Edwards, Thomas Sponsor: Sir John Rhys Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available