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Constructing the father: Fifteenth-century manuscripts of Geoffrey Chaucer's works

Magnani, Roberta 2010. Constructing the father: Fifteenth-century manuscripts of Geoffrey Chaucer's works. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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This is a study of the multiple constructions and appropriations of Geoffrey Chaucer’s paternitas of the English literary canon. It examines the evidence from the compilatio and ordinatio of fifteenth-century manuscript anthologies containing the poet’s works, and it interrogates the social conditions of production of these codices, as well as the ideology informing their compositional and paratextual programmes. Conceptually, my thesis is underpinned by a broad engagement with manuscript studies, as the codices to which I attend become objects of bibliographical and codicological examination, while being scrutinised through a post-structuralist framework. This theoretical approach, which comprises Michel Foucault’s revisions o f historiography and the contiguous debates on translation practices and queer theories, allows me to read critically the socio-cultural situations which inform the plural incarnations and appropriations of Chaucer's paternal authority. My study is structured in four chapters. I begin in Chapter I by engaging with Thomas Hoccleve's literary and iconographic mythopoeia o f Chaucer who is positioned as the clerical and sober fons et origo of English vemacularity. In Chapter III interrogate the appropriations of this initial paradigm of paternal authorship and I demonstrate how fifteenth-century manuscript collections fabricate Chaucer as a courtly and lyrical Father whose work is validated by his affiliations to and reproduction of dominant aristocratic literary practices. Chapter III situates these hegemonic modes of composition and mise-en-page in the context of French manuscript culture with which Chaucer's patemality of the English canon is inextricably intertwined. These associations with the ‘master’ culture, however, disperse the Father's authority in an intervemacular site of linguistic and cultural negotiations. Similarly, Chapter IV engages with the displacement of Chaucer's paternitas in the material space of the codex, as the glossarial apparatus of the manuscript copies of his works articulates voices of dissent. No longer the stable patriarch constructed by Hoccleve, Chaucer occupies a fluid and permeable space of authority that can be inhabited by a polyvocality of hermeneutic voices and is, therefore, susceptible to perpetual acts of co-option.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Funders: School of European Studies Cardiff University, School of English, Communication and Philosophy Cardiff University, The Bibliographic Society
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:29

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