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Romance Disguises in Le Morte Darthur and The Faerie Queene

Howard, James William Henry (2016)
Dissertation (239 pages)
Committee Chair / Thesis Adviser: Morey, James
Committee Members: Bugge, John M ; Goldberg, Jonathan
Research Fields: Medieval literature; British and Irish literature
Keywords: disguise; self-fashioning; romance; King Arthur; Malory, Sir Thomas; Spenser, Edmund
Program: Laney Graduate School, English
Permanent url: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rn7j0

Abstract

This dissertation begins and ends with examples of disguises that are neglected in literary criticism. The overall goal of this project is to approach romance disguises in relation to questions of performance and self-fashioning. Disguise, as both a concealment of character and a form of characterization, positions characters within networks of social exchange and networks of meaning. As a case study of disguise, the project analyzes two English romances respectively from the fifteenth and sixteenth century, Le Morte Darthur and The Faerie Queene. The first chapter provides an overview of previous work on disguise, defines disguise as a form of allegorical and social concealment, and connects disguise to ongoing discussions of self-fashioning and identity. The second chapter focuses on tournament disguises and the way they model circuits of relationships between characters. The third chapter studies the Fair Unknown tradition in the characters of Gareth and Britomart as they fashion themselves into knights using disguise. The fourth chapter examines what happens when characters cannot interpret disguises, either because they are invisible or because they leave no trace of their disguised status. Whereas disguise in Le Morte Darthur primarily influences how communities form and dissolve, The Faerie Queene focuses more intently on visual interpretation itself, and how meaning can emerge from fabricated representations.

Table of Contents

Introduction ......................................................................................................... 1

Chapter 1: How to Fashion a Gentleman: Disguise and Identity ........................ 6

Chapter 2: The Tournament Disguise in Le Morte Darthur and .......................... 58

The Faerie Queene

Chapter 3: Perceptions of Chivalry and Establishments of Worth ....................... 110

in the Fair Unknown: Gareth and Britomart

Chapter 4: Invisible Knights, Enchanted Disguises, and the Limits .................... 166

of Social Recognition

Conclusion ......................................................................................................... 189

Notes .................................................................................................................. 196

Works Cited ....................................................................................................... 223

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