Gower Bibliography

Medieval Man-Eaters: Cannibalism and Community in Middle English Literature.

Ambrisco, Alan Scott. "Medieval Man-Eaters: Cannibalism and Community in Middle English Literature." PhD thesis, Indiana University, 1999.


"This dissertation examines Middle English texts that use tropes of cannibalism to negotiate among, and occasionally critique, England's own national, religious, and linguistic identities. Medieval romance and travel literature, drawing on a tradition begun by Herodotus, typically figure cannibalism as a marker of barbarity associated with non-Christian cultures. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, however, representations of cannibalism were employed by Middle English texts in more complex ways. "Richard Coeur de Lion," "Mandeville’s Travels," and John Gower’s "Confessio Amantis" contemplate cannibalism (whether literal or figurative) on the part of the English subject. Each text thus articulates identity as a complex negotiation between the self and other, in the process recognizing otherness within the very enter of the identity (both personal and communal) being constructed. Eventually I move away from cannibalism proper, examining what I call a cannibalizing mode of translation operative in Chaucer's Squire's Tale. As the epitome of the process by which something alien is absorbed, the incorporative translation enacted in The Squire's Tale consumes the cultural difference of the East in an effort to promote the English language. Together, these four chapters argues that, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, English representations of the western subject occasionally and contradictorily utliize tropes of cannibalism in ways that are constitutive of a developing English identity.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:Dissertation Abstracts International 60.5 (1999): 1569A.
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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