Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Medieval Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Eve Salisbury

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

This study examines the portrayal of an idealized model of masculinity in six Middle English romances: the Northern Octavian, Erl of Tolous, Le Bone Florence of Rome, Sir Tryamour, Sir Degrevant, and Sir Cleges. I classify these narratives as belong ing to a genre of "household romance" (1) because they are concerned with themes of marriage and household formation, specifically with what construct of masculinity may best attain these goals, and (2) because they were consumed in domestic settings. All six survive in one or more of three MSS, the Thornton MS, Cambridge 2.38, and Ashmole 61. These MSS were owned by members of the gentry and urban craftsmen classes. I ex plore specifically how the model of masculinity presented in the romances, one of uner ring professional skill and social conformity, reinforced norms of manhood in these two cultures. These norms required men to adhere carefully to narrow social expectations for masculine behavior, or face marginalization. Because the idealized masculinity in these romances augmented that of gentry and tradesman reality, the narratives enhanced the restriction of gender identity for men in late medieval England.

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