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The Medieval Past in the English Sixteenth Century: Language, Periodization and Anachronicity
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2469-6431
2015 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In recent years, scholars have taken an increased interest in the way writers such as Shakespeare construed the medieval past. While writers at the time frequently turn to medieval sources for themes, images or vocabulary, they did not necessarily do so in terms that suggested a clear separation of “classical” and “medieval.” Instead, “ancient” or “antique” were among the terms frequently used to describe the texts – by Chaucer or Gower, for example – that they drew on. This paper specifically examines notions of English as an ancient language, discussed by writers in the later sixteenth century, and argues that such ideas are characteristically anachronic, requiring a less binaristic understanding of “renaissance” and “middle ages”. For example Chaucer was hailed (by e.g. Spenser) as a role model of contemporary English language together with a host of classical influences from Virgil and onward; thus, for all their rehearsing of Latin influences, and despite the deliberate use of “medieval” motifs and words in plays such as Beaumont and Fletcher’s Knight of the Burning Pestle, writers tended to see the medieval past less in terms of periodization than in terms of a continuum that blends various pasts in their own present. In other words, the paper implies, periods such as "middle ages" need a nuanced attention to reinventions of them not only during the present, but from the perspective of all later attempts at distinction between then and now.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
Keyword [en]
Periodicity, periodization, early modern, poetics, Edmund Spenser, Samuel Daniel
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Humanities, English literature; Humanities, Comparative literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-46746OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-46746DiVA: diva2:860538
Conference
Tidigmoderna epokbegrepp: Tillkomst, innebörd, användning, 12 oktober, Göteborg
Available from: 2015-10-12 Created: 2015-10-12 Last updated: 2016-05-03Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf