Abstract/Details

The quest for collective identity in the Middle English Charlemagne Romances


2009 2009

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Abstract (summary)

This project examines the Middle English Charlemagne Romances, a scattered group of nine metrical romances from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in the sociocultural context of late medieval England’s growing perception of nationhood. I argue that these romances employ the complicated figures of Islamic Saracens as symbols of perceived threats to unity. Just as the Saracens of the Chanson de Roland and crusade literature present dangers to the wholeness of Christendom, the Saracens of the Middle English material provide vehicles to indicate some threat to the developing sense of English collective identity in the later Middle Ages. No mere cultural bogeymen, the Saracens of these romances embody English anxieties that their historical circumstances may not allow them to achieve collectivity by way of the traditional categories that define group identity. I ground my readings of the romances in the history of late medieval England, drawing on psychoanalytic approaches to identity and theories of nation both medieval and modern, and I organize my chapters around the definitions of group identity put forth by Robert Bartlett: in the Middle Ages, concepts of racial and ethnic identity, and, by extension, national identity, were determined by shared language, law, and blood. Ultimately, I problematize Bartlett’s categorizations by considering the difficulties of including women and workers into an idealized collective identity.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Medieval literature;
British and Irish literature
Classification
0297: Medieval literature
0593: British and Irish literature
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; Charlemagne Romances; Collective identity; Community; Identity; Middle English; Romance; Saracens
Title
The quest for collective identity in the Middle English Charlemagne Romances
Author
Williamsen, Elizabeth A.
Number of pages
228
Publication year
2009
Degree date
2009
School code
0093
Source
DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9781109504088
Advisor
Ingham, Patricia C.
Committee member
Fulk, Robert D.; Gade, Kari E.; Lochrie, Karma
University/institution
Indiana University
Department
English
University location
United States -- Indiana
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3380139
ProQuest document ID
304899269
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304899269
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