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Title:'Of his breast noble poets shall eat; of his blood shall men be drunk': nationalism, literature, and Arthurian 'things' in medieval and Early Modern Britain
Author(s):Sach, Amy Rowan
Director of Research:Barrett, Robert W.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Barrett, Robert W.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Wright, Charles D; Newcomb, Lori H.; Galloway, Andrew
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
King Arthur
thing theory
new materialism
Bill Brown
Abstract:My dissertation examines the intersection of medieval and Early Modern Arthurian literature, English and British nationalism, and new materialism – specifically thing theory and object-oriented ontology. Arthur was not a true historical figure, yet throughout much of British history his cultural and propagandist value has been immeasurable both to the ruling class and those who would rebel against it. The end result is that Arthurian objects such as his alleged body, the Round Table, and seals and maps were constantly being produced. Because of the doubtful status of such objects, each new era had to come up with a new theoretical lens through which to discuss these ‘things’ in order to have them hold meaning or value in their current cultural climate. Through the course of this dissertation I follow this trend from the twelfth century to the sixteenth century, tracking these material signifiers as they change in dialogue with shifting cultural needs. While the focus on objects remains consistent throughout these eras, the meaning of the Arthurian objects is fluid and multitudinous, as are the types of lenses through which they are discussed. In some cases these objects show the failure of contemporary Britain in comparison to the golden age of Arthur; in other cases these objects demonstrate that the glorious Arthurian past should bolster support for the politics of the present; in others still these objects critique even Arthur himself. In some cases a true belief in a historical Arthur is actually necessary; in other cases he is merely used as a symbol for an emotional or political truth.
Issue Date:2015-07-08
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Amy Rowan Sach
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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