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Title: From Christogram to Arma Christi: The Origin and Development of Christological Imagery in the Middle English Lyric
Authors: Jones, Natalie Ann
Supervisors: D’Arcy, Anne Marie
Award date: 1-Mar-2011
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: The Middle English religious lyrics are a diverse group of texts, spanning the turn of the twelfth century to the first decades of the sixteenth. These largely anonymous poems are notable for their thematic diversity and acute textual instability, surviving in a variety of forms and contexts. Notwithstanding their disparate nature, they have been regarded as thematically and devotionally simplistic and low in literary status. This negative assessment assumes they were written for a predominantly illiterate laity to explain in plain English the mysteries of the Christian faith. However, this study of key motifs and images from a selection of lyrics challenges this generalisation. It reveals that the iconography of these lyrics is far from arbitrary, but draws on an erudite catalogue of motifs also discernible in the contemporary visual arts. Chapter one considers the influence of the Christian tradition on the lyrics, particularly the influence of Latin hymnody and liturgy, and the origin and development of Christological iconography. Chapter Two examines the thirteenth-century Wenne hic soe on rode idon, often cited as a typical example of a Passion lyric, before turning to On leome is in þis world ilist, distinguished by an iconographic complexity generally overlooked by scholars. Chapter Three discusses the late fourteenth-century Fadur, sone & holi gost, particularly its use of penitential and Christological motifs. It then revisits one of the best known lyrics, In a valey of þis restles mynd, and its complex imagery that still puzzles commentators. Chapter Four focuses on the fifteenth-century Ihesus woundes so wide, particularly its manuscript context, before moving on to Brother, abyde: an account of Christ’s earthly life which has never before been examined in detail. Finally, we reflect on how the Christological motifs found in the religious lyrics are reanimated in the short poems of the early modern period.
Embargo on file until: 1-Jan-10000
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author, 2011
Description: Due to third party copyright restrictions all images have been removed from the appendix of the electronic version of this thesis. The unabridged version can be consulted, on request, at the University of Leicester’s David Wilson Library.
Appears in Collections:Theses, Dept. of English
Leicester Theses

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