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Five Middle English alliterative poems: Their versification, rhetoric and authorship

Hughes, Christopher 2018. Five Middle English alliterative poems: Their versification, rhetoric and authorship. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The Awntyrs off Arthure (Awntyrs), The Knightly Tale of Gologras and Gawain (Gologras), Rauf the Collier (Rauf), The Pistel of Swete Susan (Susan) and The Buke of the Howlat (Howlat), five fourteenth and fifteenth-century alliterative poems in rhyming stanzas, are the subjects of a stylistic analysis using a novel methodology. The aims of the analysis are threefold: (i) to reappraise the structure of Awntyrs and provide more evidence than hitherto has been offered for the work originally to have been two poems by different authors; (ii) to provide more securely evidenced data to evaluate the various claims made in nineteenth and twentieth-century criticism for shared authorships between Awntyrs, Gologras, Rauf and Susan; (iii) to demonstrate how, and with what motives, Richard Holland composed his only known poem, Howlat. From the studies of the authorship claims, a proposal is developed that Gologras and specifically the second episode of Awntyrs are more closely related than hitherto described. The methodology considers such elements of literary style as attention to strophic paradigms, syntax, narrative technique and rhetoric. The study of rhetorical style in non-Chaucerian fourteenth and fifteenth-century poetry seems to have been neglected but proves to contribute significantly to an understanding of the stylistic characteristics of the poems that are the subjects this thesis. The rhetorical study of Howlat reveals the extent to which its author followed the teachings of a classical rhetorician when composing his fable and modelled its central panegyric on traditional praise poetry. The thesis demonstrates how the methodology exploits the complex versification of these poems to study the literary style and ability of their authors, and invites its future application to a study of all the extant alliterative thirteen-line stanza poems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Submission
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 May 2018
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2021 13:46

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