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Child Substitution: A new approach to the changeling motif in medieval European culture

Sawyer, Rose Alice (2018) Child Substitution: A new approach to the changeling motif in medieval European culture. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This inter-disciplinary project studies the child substitution motif — that is, in my own terms, the idea that a human child is/has been removed and another being, the changeling, substituted in its place — as it manifests in texts and images during the medieval period. Through detailed comparison of a wide variety of sources from across Europe, I address key questions about the significance of the motif. In particular, I engage with the figure of the changeling as a cultural construct, an element of the medieval imaginative landscape that is invested with meaning through its cultural context and that can therefore be used as a lens through which to examine and reveal societal tensions; particularly regarding infants and children: their health, their care, and their position within the familial unit. Chapter One provides an overview of the etymology and semantics of words that appear to have been used in north-west Europe during the Middle Ages to denote a changeling. Chapters Two through to Four work as a group to investigate how the examination of medieval changeling sources can contribute to our understanding of the medieval discourse surrounding the health and care of infants and children. Chapter Five discusses how the child substitution motif could function as a means to articulate other anxieties, such as those stemming from familial, theological, or socio-political tension.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: changeling, child substitution, medieval, Middle Ages, childhood, childcare, childhood development, parenting, supernatural, saints, medicine, disability, culture
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > University of Leeds Research Centres and Institutes > Institute for Medieval Studies (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Institute for Medieval Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.770045
Depositing User: Dr Rose A Sawyer
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2019 14:07
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22993

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