Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
At the beginning of the Middle English romance Emaré, there is a description of a "cloth pat was wordylye wroghte" (1. 38) by the "amerayle dowgter of hepennes" (1.109). This cloth is present throughout the whole story in the form of a robe that is worn by the central character in the romance, Emaré. This thesis examines the presence of the cloth in Emaré by exploring the origin of the cloth both as a product of the Oriental world and as a textile created by a woman. A discussion of the perceived threat that the Orient posed to the stability of life in Europe during the Middle Ages and the way this threat is represented in romance provides a framework for looking at the cloth as a representation of the Orient in Emaré. The cloth is also a representation of the feminine in the romance because it was embroidered by a woman. An exploration of the idea that this cloth and the images depicted on it may be read as the text of the daughter of the Emir which she has written with a needle and thread, suggests that the Emperor's shaping of the cloth into a robe serves the purpose of "translating" this feminine -- and Oriental -- text. Since both the Orient and the feminine were considered Other in the Medieval period, this act of "translation" seems to be an attempt to control the Other. However, the idea that the cloth retains some of its Otherness even after it has been reshaped is a point of departure for questioning the nature of romance, specifically the way in which it allows for varied interpretations of the representation of the Other.
Struch, Joanne Lynn, "The Fabric of the Story: Reading the Cloth in Emaré" (1995). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5949.
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