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Durham e-Theses
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Re-evaluating the Representation of Saracen Women in Middle English Romance: Influences from the East

DADA, ANUM,TARIQ (2019) Re-evaluating the Representation of Saracen Women in Middle English Romance: Influences from the East. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 05 June 2022.

Abstract

This thesis discusses Middle English romances that feature prominent Saracen characters, in particular Saracen women. Although the composers of these Middle English romances change and adapt the romances, they are to a great extent redactions of Anglo-Norman romances written during the time of the later Crusades; as such they also incorporate some of the prevalent Crusading ideologies of the period. As both the Frankish and English Crusading armies stayed in the Levant for a significant amount of time, interacting with Levantine Muslims, these romances may give a glimpse of how European Christians viewed the Muslims of the East and what they knew about them through their encounters with them in the Levant. Despite being previously labelled as orientalised helpers by scholars, Saracen women play an indespensible role in these romances and are portrayed in contrast to their demonised male counterparts. They possess agency and practice medicine and magic which were commonly associated with the East in the later Middle Ages. The first part of this thesis deals with this representation of Saracen women and the second part of this thesis explores the origins of the conversion topos which lies at the centre of these romances. Overall, this thesis questions how much Western Europeans knew about Muslims in the Levant and whether there could have been any literary influence from Arab culture and literary tradition after the long period of contact with the Muslims during the Crusades.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 Jun 2019 12:56

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