Department of English Visiting Speaker, Dr. Laura Ashe (Worcester College, Oxford)
‘The ‘Cniht’ and Chivalry: The Formation of Knighthood in English Culture’
Thursday 13th September, 2012. @ 5.15 pm. Buchanan, B 313.
This lecture will discuss the radical implications of the rise of chivalry in aristocratic culture and its development as an ideology and practice in England in the Middle Ages, and argue for a fundamental difference between French and English ideas of what chivalry entails, seeking to articulate English Chivalry in its insular context. That fundamental difference will be considered in the light of a variety of literary texts and conduct manuals: beginning with the heroic ethos of Beowulf and the Battle of Maldon; moving through the transformation of English culture in the centuries following the Norman conquest; and ending with the critique of Chivalry as found in the Middle English masterpiece Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and the revelation of the poet’s reflection on the fundamental flaws in the French ideal, and English knighthood’s independence from it.
This lecture will be of especial interest to students taking courses in English, French, History, and Medieval Studies.
Laura Ashe is a University Lecturer at Worcester College, Oxford. Her main research interests lie in high medieval literary and cultural history. She is the author of Fiction and History in England, 1066-1200 (2007), and is currently writing the new Oxford English Literary History, vol. 1: 1000-1350.