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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Violent chivalry: How representations of violence inform group and individual identity in later Middle English chivalric romances
by McClain, Rachel, M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2012, 96; 1520872
Abstract (Summary)

Identity in the Middle Ages is difficult to define, as it relied upon a number of factors, including social position, gender, and even geography. By defining these factors and, discussing the ways in which violence transverses each of them, this thesis sheds new light not just on how to define medieval identity, but also on how to define violence in the later Middle Ages. Violence is traditionally regarded by critics such as Maurice Keen and Richard Kaeuper as a simple behavior by which knights and chivalry can be defined, but this study treats violence as a nuanced concept that plays a complicated role in identity formation. By looking at Middle English romances of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth-centuries, this thesis shows that violence is used in specific and measured ways only against very specific opponents, and that this use of violence works toward defining not only individual identity for knights, but also larger categories of identity to which he, or the reader, might belong. By first defining various categories of Other, including the religious and monstrous Other, this study shows how episodic uses of violence define medieval masculine identity and religious group identity, in different ways, depending on the opponent and the context of each episode.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mitchell-Smith, Ilan
School: California State University, Long Beach
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 51/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: British and Irish literature
Publication Number: 1520872
ISBN: 978-1-267-70269-2
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