Marie de France and Layamon: Cultural subversives
The dissertation begins with an introduction and a review of literature. In chapter one I explain the parts that I use of the theory of semiotics as developed by Julia Kristeva, Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of heteroglossia, and the parts of modern Post-Colonial theories that I find useful for my study.^ In chapter two I relate some of the history of Norman England focusing on the roles of Matilda, mother of Henry II, and Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II, as they relate to Marie de France, the late twelfth century Anglo-Norman writer. I examine patriarchal influences on her, possible influences from the Celtic culture, and the influence of Christianity. Then, by using the theory of semiotics, I analyze six of her tales, specifically Lanval, Guigemar, Bisclavret, Eliduc and LeFresne. I demonstrate that Marie, by using fairy tale elements, shows women how to manipulate their way into an empowered life.^ In chapter three I discuss how the texts of Layamon, an early thirteenth century Anglo-Saxon writer living under Norman domination, abrogate the culture of the Norman's and deny the dominant language. I present evidence which clearly proves cultural discrimination which reinforces the claim that he was an oppressed member of a minority culture. A detailed analysis of the Saxon sections of the Brut shows that, contrary to former criticism, Layamon does not undermine his own culture, but he makes his ancestors look better than did Geoffrey of Monmouth in his Historia regum Britanniae and Robert Wace in his Roman de Brut. He portrays them as cunning, valiant and noble. Reading this tale in English gives voice to the Saxon side of the story. Layamon makes us see that on every monument to the Britons is also written the history of their Saxon opponents. Layamon makes it seem like the Saxons have a more legitimate claim to England than do the Normans. I show that he created a pre-conquest history for subversive purposes. In chapter four I summarize my findings. ^
Literature, Medieval|Literature, English
Barbara Gall Von Mettenheim,
"Marie de France and Layamon: Cultural subversives"
Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access).