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The Language of the Body: An Analysis of Chaucer, Dunbar and Henryson.

COLLINS, SHANE,MAURICE (2012) The Language of the Body: An Analysis of Chaucer, Dunbar and Henryson. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The role of the body in social life is a problem that occupies much of medieval thought. This thesis considers the poetic use of the language of the body to convey contemporary concerns and to explore the paradigms of the body that constituted medieval social normality. Each poet considered is deeply influenced by the dominant modes of bodily discourse in medieval life; medicine, religion and natural philosophy. This thesis examines each of these modes of discourse and demonstrates their prevalence in the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert Henryson and William Dunbar. It is argued that each poet, while writing under the influence of his predecessors, displays characteristic attitudes to the body and to the social and political concerns that arise around it. It is shown that both of the Scottish poets owe a debt to Chaucer, but that they also develop ways of speaking of the body that are distinctive from him and from each other. This thesis shows three poets negotiating the problematic issue of the body in social life and illustrates their general conformity to social norms, but more importantly their occasional attempts to interrogate and uncover those ideas about the body that were broadly accepted by society.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Body; Chaucer; Henryson; Dunbar; Literature; Medieval; History of Ideas
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Nov 2012 08:38

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