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Title:The poetics of religious conversion in medieval English literature
Author(s):Bankert, Dabney Anderson
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wright, Charles D.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Medieval
Religion, General
Literature, English
Abstract:While early medieval conversion narratives have been mined by historians for the clues they offer to the Christianization of the West, critics of Old English conversion narratives have tended either to isolate their "Germanic" or "heroic" elements or to submerge their historical particulars within programmatic typological or generic interpretations. My dissertation focuses on the dynamic relationship between representations of conversion in chronologically and culturally remote communities: how medieval authors' understanding of conversion was conditioned by earlier Christian literary models, and how those models and the social worlds they presuppose were in turn transformed by medieval authors to address the social issues and conflicts posed by their own historical experience of conversion. Specifically, I focus on the models of Paul, Augustine, Constantine, and those provided by romances of the apostles' missions and by the vast collection of saints' lives. Chapters One and Two chiefly consider the public sphere--the roles of kings in forging a Christian nation and of the apostles in forging a Christian world. Chapter One examines the application of the Constantinian model of conversion by Anglo-Saxon and Irish authors to the story of Oswald's victory over the Briton Caedwalla and considers the larger implications of the differences between Anglo-Saxon and Irish accounts of the conversion of kings. Chapter Two is concerned with the adaptation of the apocryphal story of Andrew and Matthew in the City of Cannibals by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet in Andreas to reflect his concern with missionary issues. Chapters Three and Four are concerned with the private sphere. Specifically, in Chapter Three I examine the social problems posed by conversions of members of pagan families in one popular collection translated into the vernacular by the Anglo-Saxon monk, AElfric. The final chapter of the dissertation examines how two contrasting models of individual conversion to Christianity, exemplified by the stories of Paul and Augustine, were appropriated by Chaucer to explore the psychology of fin'amors as a surrogate religion in the pre-Christian world of Troilus and Criseyde.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Bankert, Dabney Anderson
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712196
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712196

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