Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Comparative Literature and Literary Theory

First Advisor

Rita Copeland

Second Advisor

David Wallace

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the fraught relationship between England and French-speaking Continental Europe in the late fourteenth century by uncovering a contemporary cross-regional discourse that theorized this relationship. The dissertation examines the so-called formes fixes, an important lyric genre widely used across Francophone Europe in the late Middle Ages. It argues for this genre's emergence as a privileged medium for Francophone poets to explore the difficulty of retaining trans-European cultural affinity during the rise of protonationalist and regionalist faction in the Hundred Years War. This was a long-term conflict ostensibly between England and France, lasting from 1337 until 1453, that involved multiple other European regions within its theater. The dissertation organizes itself around a large, but little studied, late medieval manuscript anthology of formes fixes lyric, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, MS Codex 902 (formerly French 15). Never fully edited, the Pennsylvania manuscript is the largest, oldest, and most formally and geographically diverse formes fixes collection extant today. Chapter One argues that, unlike other, later, formes fixes anthologies, the Pennsylvania manuscript is not structured by author or sub-genre, but rather by form, chronology, geographic diversity, and dialectal difference. It thus reveals not only its compiler's awareness of the diffusion of formes fixes lyric, but a desire to memorialize this genre's transmission across regional divides. Chapter Two explores the political effects of the diffusion of formes fixes lyric by mapping literary borrowings between a corpus of anti-war texts in this anthology and other lyric corpora written in France, England, and the Low Countries. Chapter Three focuses on Francophone responses, both positive and negative, to the transmission of formes fixes lyric into England, centering on the implications of Eustache Deschamps' praise of his English Francophone contemporary, Geoffrey Chaucer, as a "great translator" of formes fixes lyric. Chapter Four examines the adoption of formes fixes lyric in the work of Chaucer and his English Francophone contemporary, John Gower. It demonstrates that, like their Continental counterparts, Chaucer and Gower also view the appropriation of formes fixes lyric as a means of carving a geopolitically specific identity out of Francophone cultural belonging.

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