Creating Structure: Verbal and Visual Architecture in Chaucer

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Title: Creating Structure: Verbal and Visual Architecture in Chaucer
Author: Hollis, Amanda Julia
Advisors: Linda T. Holley, Committee Chair
John Morillo, Committee Member
Charlotte Gross, Committee Member
Abstract: Chaucer uses physical structures in his dream-vision House of Fame and The Canterbury Tales in order to shape the action of his poetry. I am particularly concerned with the way in which Chaucer uses these buildings to narrate space. Building on theoretical foundations of Horace, St. Augustine, and Boccaccio, Chaucer outlines his own theory of how issues of sight and tradition should come into play in a work of art. Chaucer uses as an analogue to his buildings the tower that Jealousy builds to protect the Rose in Romance of the Rose. In House of Fame, the dreamer Geffrey encounters a glass temple of Venus, the house of Fame, and the house of Rumor. As the dreamer walks through and surveys these buildings, Chaucer allows the dreamer's visual scope to guide the narrative flow of the vision. Visual structures imitate and reinforce Chaucer's verbal structures. The organization of buildings here serves as a prototype for a secondary framing of The Canterbury Tales. In The Knight's Tale, two buildings become the focus of the action of the tales. Theseus first imprisons Arcite and Palamon in a tower and later commissions a theater for a battle between the two cousins. The tower shows the narrowing scope of the knights' vision, while the theater serves as a microcosm for the rest of the tales in The Canterbury Tales. The thesis examines the role of these buildings in their respective works and how they are developed in The Canterbury Tales in a way that builds upon ideas in House of Fame.
Date: 2002-11-12
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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