Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 5351
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  • Title: Mon al hym one: Conflicting Modes of Association and Violence in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight"
  • Source: Gender and Conflict in the Middle Ages. Gender and Medieval Studies Conference, York, January 5-7 2001.. 2001.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Chivalry Knights in Literature Literature- Verse Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Middle English Poem Violence
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 14
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  • Abstract: A key element of chivalric identity in fourteenth-century England was constituted by forms of chivalric association dedicated to the pursuit of violence and promoted by institutions such as chivalric orders (especially the Order of the Garter), retinue membership, and brotherhood in arms. Indeed, the corporate sense of self that these institutions fostered was reinforced at a powerfully general level by the universally held idea (amongst nobles anyway) that chivalry itself represented a common set of values and ideas concerning the regulation of violence, which through common possession bound together men of the upper social strata. At odds with the idea of the knight as a brother at arms, as a man who derives his identity through his association with other men, is the idea of the knight as a self-contained, isolated, and solitary individual, indeed often violently opposed to other knights. In my proposed paper, I intend to explore how these ideas were extremely productive in producing notions of the chivalric self, particularly the ways in which these conflicting structures of self-fashioning through violence are worked with in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." I also intend to explore the ways in which "historical" texts such as chronicles and legal texts (for example, the records of the Court of Chivalry, general judicial records, and rolls of muster) draw upon and develop this figure, as well as the manner in which the form and activities of chivalric societies such as the Order of the Garter negotiated the instabilities these contradictions produced. Overall, I aim to draw out the tensions and syncopations existing between these different, but in important ways similar, uses of the notion of individualised and associative violence to construct knightly identity. [Reproduced by permission of the Gender and Medieval Studies Conference organizers].
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  • Year of Publication: 2001.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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