Constructing ‘ England ’ in the Fourteenth Century: A Postcolonial Interpretation of Middle English Romance

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Explores how narratives aided in the construction of a national identity in England in the late Middle Ages. Throughout the Middle Ages England was the site of confluent cultures, English, Scandinavian, and Continental, and this work examines how social, cultural and political encounters, particularly in the centuries following the Norman Conquest, influenced constructions of Englishness.


"Thoroughly researched, this book engages with English origins -- Trojan, Roman, Saxon, Norman -- and with the shaping of Englishness in Middle English romance from significantly new perspectives which break important new ground in a selection of narratives currently at the forefront of a major revival of critical interest." - Prof. Geraldine Barnes, University of Sydney

"One of the distinctive strengths of Young’s work is the attention it gives to re-reading the historical topoi that have generally been regarded as conventional in the romances, in order to demonstrate how these texts’ subtle yet significant manipulations of these topoi are indicative of late medieval English postcoloniality. Young is, furthermore, particularly attuned to the romances’ appropriations from their source and analogue texts and has placed the texts effectively within an intertextual lineage. . . . The entire book is thoroughly and impressively researched, and written in a lucid, unadorned prose. Young has produced an original, thoughtful, clearly expressed and thoroughly researched study." - Prof.Louise D’Arcens, University of Wollongong

"Young’s book makes a significant contribution to our understanding both of these texts and their contexts and of how postcolonialist theory may most helpfully be adduced to light our paths of enquiry." - Diane Speed, University of Sydney

"[The author] has successfully shown how postcolonial theory can produce fresh insights into Middle English romances. Each of the romances discussed are concerned with how the nation, England, is represented in the creative imagination. ... [The author]'s use of postcolonial theory to interpret the romances makes a significant contribution to developing new understandings of the texts. As such, this clear and well-written volume will be of great interest to both researchers and students interested in postcolonial theory or Middle English romance." -- Prof. Diana Jefferies, University of Western Sydney

"This insightful study investigates the at times intimate relationship between the medieval and the postcolonial (and medieval studies and postcolonial studies as academic disciplines), a relationship that shares a distrust of both modernity itself and the dominant historiographical models that emerged in modernity. ... Young's book is well researched, readable, and entertaining, and results in some fresh and innovative interpretations of reasonably well-known texts. It is highly recommended to anyone interested in Middle English literature and in the application of theoretical perspectives to medieval sources." -- Prof. Carole M. Cusack, The University of Sydney

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
English Law and Identity: Anglo-Saxon Precedent and Plantagenet Practice in Athelston
Chapter 2
Guy and Bevis: English exemplars in the Anglo-Saxon past
Chapter 3
A Noble History: Trojan Heroes and the foundation of Britain
Chapter 4

Hybrid Identities and Illegitimacy in Of Arthour and Of Merlin

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