Year of Study in Programme: First
Area/Topic of Research: Medieval Literature
Title/Provisional Title of Thesis: Gender, National Identity, and The Grotesque in Medieval Literature
Short Abstract: This thesis examines how identity in British late medieval texts are ‘in a state of continual fluctuation and formation’ (Leech) and consider how such identities are acted upon by the constructions of nationalism and gender in the Middle Ages. These texts will include selected lais of Marie de France, The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell, The Alliterative Death of Arthur, and the romance of Sir Orfeo. I consider how the identities in these medieval texts unsettle and unseat presuppositions about the Middle Ages, particularly in relation to the representation of the grotesque, gender, and the nation. Through these three interrelated avenues of study, I hope to show how medieval literature retains the power to resist easy categorisation, dispel modern political presuppositions, and refigure identity as internally conflictive, vitally protean, and continuously synthesising. By analysing what political narratives about national identity and gender have overwritten medieval texts, this thesis considers whether such texts can speak back to modern assumptions about identity in the Middle Ages.