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Fictions of Fatherhood : Fatherhood in Late Medieval English Gentry and Mercantile Letters and Romances

Moss, Rachel E (2009) Fictions of Fatherhood : Fatherhood in Late Medieval English Gentry and Mercantile Letters and Romances. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis takes a finnly interdisciplinary approach to the subject of late medieyal fatherhood. It investigates the ideology of fatherhood, as well as the relationships between fathers and their sons and daughters, both legitimate and illegitimate, and also their stepchildren. In doing this it not only illuminates a previously unexplored aspect of family life, but also demonstrates the importance of fatherhood in male identity formation, and so expands the current understanding of medieval masculinities. As its source material this thesis uses Middle English romances and fifteenth-century gentry and mercantile letters. Rather than attempting a survey of late medieval fatherhood, this thesis concentrates on 'fictions' of fatherhood - the constructed worlds of letters and romances. Whilst letters and romances may reflect reality, and in the case of letters in particular may provide details of even the most mundane realities, they are strongly and self-consciously generic. The narrative of the romance is very important, but the story is also the means by which ideas are transmitted. Likewise the fonns of letters, whilst used to transmit practical details, are also a way of encapsulating ideological perspectives. This thesis is principally about ideas of fatherhood, and thus illuminates late medieval perceptions of fathers and their functions. The Introduction presents current scholarship and the source material. Chapter 1 argues that fatherhood was a defining aspect of establishing an adult male identity. Chapter 2 is concerned with fathers and sons, and engages closely with the specific vocabulary of fatherhood. Chapter 3 uses the fatherdaughter relationship to consider the nature of patriarchal authority. Chapter 4 looks at 'outsiders' - stepchildren and bastards - to consider how far stretched the bonds of fatherhood. The Conclusion raises areas for further research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Medieval Studies (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.507689
Depositing User: EThOS Import (York)
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 17:27
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2016 17:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14129

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