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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:55567
Doc. No:TL25521
Call number:‭3243725‬
Main Entry:Michael Earl Wenthe
Title & Author:Arthurian outsiders: The dynamic of *difference in the matter of BritainMichael Earl Wenthe
College:Yale University
Date:2006
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2006
Page No:279
Abstract:Medieval Arthurian literature stages perennial problems of intercultural contact and conflict, from ethnic contests between Britons and Saxons to family strife and ideological struggles within the Round Table fellowship itself. These struggles turn on categories of difference that describe insiders and outsiders, positions that are only defined in relation to each other. Less estranged than Others, outsiders occupy a marginal position vis-à-vis the dominant culture. I argue that the encounter with outsiders provides the testing ground for the Arthurian polity's ideals promoting the accommodation of difference within an ideology of chivalric service. This study explores the tension within Arthurian ideology between assimilationist accommodation of the other and the aggressive assertion of difference. Arthurian chivalry ideally incorporates all those who excel as virtuous knights, but the inherent violence of chivalry demands the creation of opponents and exacerbates the tendencies to factionalism latent in a body of knights who remain all too aware of their diverse and sometimes hostile geographic and family backgrounds. Acknowledging Arthur's role as a king, I describe the difference of outsiders chiefly in terms of three factors closely tied to the medieval construction of nationhood: land, lineage, and language. With an interest in outsider conditions of hybridity and double consciousness, I focus on four exemplary texts to consider how Arthurian society confronts different aspects of outsiderhood. In Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia regum Britanniae, the formation and maintenance of British identity depends on opposition to ethnic outsiders, defined in relation to the borders of Britain (land). In Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur, the ideals of inclusive fellowship are destroyed by exclusive kinship-based prejudice, sacrificing confraternity for consanguinity (lineage). In the Hebrew Melekh Artus, the story of Arthur fractures between Gentile and Jewish understanding in the effects of double consciousness produced by the text's biblical phrasing (language). In the Old Yiddish Vidvilt, a hero of mixed background establishes his name and wins a new kingdom while turning defeated enemies into reformed friends of Arthur (all three factors). The ambivalent position of the Arthurian outsider stands between opposed categories, revealing the necessity and superior perspective of the tertium quid.
Subject:Language, literature and linguistics; Arthurian; Difference; Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bishop of St. Asaph; Great Britain; Jewish; Malory, Thomas, Sir; Outsiders; Literature; Middle Ages; 0297:Literature; 0297:Middle Ages
Added Entry:L. W. Patterson
Added Entry:Yale University