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Title: Disguise, transformation, and revelation in Middle English romances and outlaw ballads
Author: Hunter, Mikayla L.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis examines forms of disguise, transformation, and revelation in medieval English romances and outlaw ballads. The forms of disguise used by different characters and the consequences of such deceptions are specific to characters' social roles. They reflect medieval English concepts of social rank and gender and the duties and abilities attendant on those positions. This thesis contributes a greater understanding of how motifs of disguise, transformation, and revelation are mobilised to address the social and political anxieties and assumptions regarding gender and rank held by romance and ballad audiences. By comparing the differences in authorial portrayals of disguise-related behaviour between classes and across genders, I uncover the particular, often socially contingent, anxieties invoked by disguise and disguise-perception, and the specific social beliefs infringed or upheld by such behaviour. Chapter one explores the role of the carnivalesque in medieval English theories of kingship in disguise narratives, and examines kings' marked and remarkable inability to detect others' disguises. Chapter two focuses on women of varying rank, as femaleness constituted a separate social identity in English medieval culture. Disguise narratives that portray women as exceptional perceivers aligns with other, non-literary evidence of women's role in preserving social memory; narratives involving women in disguise intersect with medieval ideas of women as inherently deceitful, and illustrate how women exploit disguise to achieve social agency. Chapter three uses Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur as a case study to explore knightly disguise narratives, and the ethics and theatricality of chivalric disguise culture. Chapter four investigates the yeomen outlaws' failure to appropriate other social roles through disguise as indicative of the attitudes of various authors towards the developing yeoman class, and offers a new understanding of Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne.
Supervisor: Larrington, Carolyne Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English literature ; Medieval studies