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Animal Speech and Political Utterance: Articulating the Controversies of Late Fourteenth-Century England in Non-Human Voices

Sharon Ann Fulton

Title:
Animal Speech and Political Utterance: Articulating the Controversies of Late Fourteenth-Century England in Non-Human Voices
Author(s):
Fulton, Sharon Ann
Thesis Advisor(s):
Crane, Susan
Date:
Type:
Theses
Degree:
Ph.D., Columbia University
Department(s):
English and Comparative Literature
Persistent URL:
Abstract:
This dissertation analyzes the function of animal speakers in political poetry by William Langland, Geoffrey Chaucer, and John Gower, and it claims that late fourteenth-century poets describe the marginalized voices of emerging politicians by using animal expressions and noises. These writers invent a playful yet earnest poetics of acknowledgment in comparing politicians’ calls to animal cries. In unveiling novel interpretations of Langland’s mouse, Chaucer’s goose, and Gower’s jay, I argue that the speeches of animals contribute to significant argumentative strains within several late fourteenth-century poems, which remain obscure if the reader ignores the signal contribution of the animal. Finally, I study the use of animal speech in the Lancastrian poem, Richard the Redeless, to understand the ways in which the anti-Ricardian regime appropriated this malleable animal imagery to pursue its own political agenda.
Subject(s):
Literature, Medieval
English literature
Middle Ages
History
Political poetry
Animals in literature
Item views
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Metadata:
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Suggested Citation:
Sharon Ann Fulton, , Animal Speech and Political Utterance: Articulating the Controversies of Late Fourteenth-Century England in Non-Human Voices, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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