Dissertation

Fame’s Untimeliness
My dissertation investigates how medieval writers use the concept of fame to forge a relationship with the past.  Chaucer’s House of Fame provides an example of how poets and theologians represented the work of appropriating the heterogeneous past, placing the emphasis not on earning fame but rather on the power to bestow it.  The act of judging historical or literary figures as having good or bad fame (or no fame at all) allowed writers to establish continuity between past and present by translating the alterity of the past. But fame, I argue, is ultimately untimely, disrupting desired unities.  In order to interrogate the way that fame both establishes continuity and unravels it, I examine acts of judging in Piers Plowman, St. Erkenwald, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

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