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Title: Woven words : clothwork and the representation of feminine expression and identity in old French romance
Author: Boharski, Morgan Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 5999
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis focuses on the ways in which cloth and clothwork are represented in Old French romance in order to highlight how they relate to feminine voice, expression, and identity. By focusing mainly on medieval romance from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the field of research is narrowed to a period in which vernacular literature was redefining literacy. On the basis that literacy is not confined to the ability to read and write in Latin, clothwork is presented as a medium of literate expression, that being a form of readable knowledge or communication not codified in written word or language, and in the works of such authors as Marie de France, Chrétien de Troyes, and Jean Renart, amongst others, the presentation of clothwork fits this classification. My research focuses on gendered performance and gendered objects highlighting the divide between masculinity and femininity in materiality. Beginning with a contextualised and historical understanding of feminine clothwork, authority, and gendered biases in the Middle Ages in France, the Virgin Mary's associations with clothwork leads into an exploration of how the identities of women are tied to the cloth that they work or possess. From this basis, feminine voice in clothwork comes to the forefront of discussion as seemingly inaudible women make themselves heard through the use of needles and thread, telling their stories in cloth and tapestry. Throughout this study, an exploration of mother-daughter relationships is highly significant to the comprehension of feminine education and tradition in clothwork. The chansons de toile included in Le Roman de la Rose ou de Guillaume de Dole by Jean Renart underline the dichotomy and tension between oral and written culture, tying feminine voice to feminine clothwork and exploring the representation of this in the written text. Finally, Christine de Pizan's intimation of the importance of feminine tasks and brilliance concludes this study in order to better understand the ways in which the literature of the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance departs from the medieval presentation of clothwork as a typically feminine activity underlying and encapsulating a woman's identity and expressive power.
Supervisor: Sinclair, Fionnuala ; Lacore-Martin, Emmanuelle Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Old French romance ; feminine voice ; identity ; medieval romance ; vernacular literature ; clothwork ; gendered objects ; chansons de toile ; Roman de la Rose ; Christine de Pizan