Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 15276
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Abelson-Hoek , Michelle Christine.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Prostitute Figure in Medieval English and French Literature
  • Source: Dissertation Abstracts Online, Accession Number 9952533. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by addressing your request to ProQuest Information and Learning Company, 300 North Zeeb Road, An Arbor, MI 48106-1346 USA. Telephone (734) 761-7400; E-mail: info@proquest.com; Web Site: http://wwwlib.umi.com/dissertations
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Dissertation Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Literature- Verse Prostitutes in Literature Women in Literature
  • Geographic Area: British Isles;France
  • Century: 14- 15
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  • Abstract: No one has yet studied deeply the role played by the figure of the prostitute in medieval literature, a situation which I seek to remedy in this dissertation. The work begins with an attempt at a full contextual definition of prostitution, not only in medieval, but in modern society as well, seeing it as an amalgamation of concepts of promiscuity (predominantly female), lechery, idolatry, greed and love of the material world. Next, the medieval whore figure is placed within historical context through a review of what is known of such women in the societies (and literature) of the ancient Jews, Greeks, Romans, and early Christians. This culminates in a substantial study of a very early (and virtually unknown) medieval poem, the Norman Latin "Jezebel," which demonstrates how the early Middle Ages viewed the prostitute as a symbol of subversion, resistance to authority, and, ultimately, heresy. The bulk of the dissertation considers the role played by whores in the works of two of later fourteenth-century England's greatest authors, Geoffrey Chaucer and William Langland. Though both of them draw on older traditions of prostitute symbolism, they also take the figure in new directions, presenting her as a representation of corruption and an enemy of Christian virtue doomed to self-damnation, but also as embodying the joys of the "queynte," or the material world. Finally, in the works of two French authors writing at the end of the Middle Ages, Christine de Pizan~~and Fran├žois Villon, I study the prostitute figure in relation to authorial self-identity. Thus, in literature between 1000 and 1500 AD, the prostitute figure runs a full course from complete marginalization as an outsider figure to witty (if qualified) acceptance as a part of society and even the author's own psyche. [The dissertation citation and abstract contained here is published with permission of ProQuest Information and Learning Company. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission.]
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  • Year of Publication: 1999.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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