Diverse Medieval Literary Perspectives

  • “The Chivalrous Nation: Travel and Ideological Exchange in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”

    Meg Oldman, Department of English

    This presentation will examine Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, one of the most defining examples of the alliterative resurgence, and the instances of travel and ideological exchange presented in the poem. Written in a North Midlands dialect, several moments in the poem provide commentary on relations between the royal court of Richard II and the provinces of the North West Midlands.

    While the poem reveals moments of regional pride, I intend to argue that through the use of the alliterative style and the rhetorical execution of Sir Gawain’s final punishment, this poem reveals a commentary on the overarching English national identity, giving voice to minority groups. Sir Gawain’s travels lead him through Wales and North West England, allowing him to experience these traditions and lifestyles which differ from the royal tradition he is used to. By examining the poetic style, language, and certain key scenes in which ideological exchange occurs between minority and majority cultures, I will demonstrate how the regional pride presented in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight contributes to a commentary on how the court should treat its minority groups and gentry.

    “Ownership of the Flesh:  Margery Kempe’s Freedom through Christ”

    Rachael Warmington, Department of English

    Religion was both influential and controlling during the Middles Ages; however, the restrictions and practices that religion set forth became an outlet for women.  Women were permitted to speak and write about the scriptures, travel for religious pilgrimages, and maintain their chastity by committing their body to Christ. Margery Kempe was one of the women documented that had a fruitful life a as “brewer, miller, pilgrim, and holy women” who “traveled widely in England, made pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Rome and Santiago” and Danzig (Barratt 177).  These endeavors were possible because of her devotion to Christ and religious practices. 

    In my paper, I argue that morals and ethics associated with religion did not restrict the life of Margery Kempe; they created an outlet where she could express herself and take control over her mind and body.