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Title: 'Baisies Ceste Feuille': Queer(ing) Rhetoric in Verse Romances and the Dits, from Chretien de Troyes to Christine de Pizan
Authors: Samuelson, Charles L.
Advisors: Kay, Sarah
Contributors: French and Italian Department
Keywords: Chretien de Troyes
Guillaume de Machaut
verse romances
Subjects: Medieval literature
Modern language
Gender studies
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation studies the two most prominent lyrico-narrative genres of the French Middle Ages, verse romances and the dits, which have not previously been examined together. Critics have underscored the “self-consciousness” of each genre; considering them together, I argue, will serve both to contextualize and to deepen our knowledge of the modalities and stakes of linguistic indeterminacy in texts associated with each. I also argue that their juxtaposition highlights the startling queerness, defined with such thinkers as Judith Butler and Lee Edelman as the resistance to any stable conception of identity or figuration, characteristic of both. Within the dissertation, I explore different ways in which texts that we now associate with each genre foreground the indeterminacy at the heart of language and of gender and sexuality—and also at the heart of the relationship between language, gender, and sexuality. I therefore trouble the border between verse romances and the dits in order to open up new readings of how verse romances and dits perturb other distinctions, be they literary—such as the opposition of lyricism to narrativity or the neat separation of narrative levels—or ethico-political, related, for example, to the contours of the normative subject or to the hetero/homo binary. By defining and articulating queerness in terms of the relationship of language to sexuality, rather than uniquely in terms of “sodomy,” I offer a new and wider account of the unflagging queerness of medieval French courtly literature, while I explore the complex intersections between contemporary theory and medieval literature in order to make the case for the particular importance of vernacular poetics of the period to the history of the intertwinement of discursivity, gender and sexuality, which figures so prominently in modern theory.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:French and Italian

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