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The Textual and Visual Uses of the Literary Motif of Cross-Dressing in Medieval French Literature, 1200–1500

Wright, Vanessa Elizabeth (2019) The Textual and Visual Uses of the Literary Motif of Cross-Dressing in Medieval French Literature, 1200–1500. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the uses of the literary motif of cross-dressing in medieval French literature, focussing on texts written between 1200 and 1500. It combines analysis of literary, legal, and visual material in order to demonstrate the ways in which this motif interacts with contemporary concerns. Chapter I examines the manuscript contexts of the literary corpus so as to determine ownership, audience, and popularity of the texts as well as discussing the texts and genres with which this corpus is most commonly associated in medieval manuscripts. Chapters II to V are each centred on a different theme to illustrate how the cross-dressing motif draws attention to these social and legal concerns. Chapter II analyses how both text and image depict the gender expressions and identities of cross-dressing characters. Focussing on how dress and status, marriage, and sex and desire are portrayed in the literary corpus and accompanying manuscript illuminations, chapters III, IV, and V demonstrate how literature engages with canon law debates and practice. This approach reveals the connections between literature and law, deepening our understanding of how medieval writers interacted with legal material and revealing areas of shared and diverging concern. Through the motivations, experiences, actions, and relationships of cross-dressing characters, texts containing this motif consider issues of gender, sexuality, love and marriage, and status. As a consequence, analysis of the cross-dressing motif in literature highlights the importance of these subjects to medieval society and aids our appreciation of how these issues were conceptualised and reflected upon in medieval French culture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
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.804563
Depositing User: Vanessa Wright
Date Deposited: 04 May 2020 07:06
Last Modified: 11 May 2020 09:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/26576

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