Graduate Theses & Dissertations

knight and his horse
This thesis examines the social impact of horses on French elites between 1150 and 1300. Using courtly literature, a veterinary treatise, manuscript illuminations, archeological studies, material artefacts, and account books, it explores the place of horses in elite society—practical and symbolic—and assesses the social costs of elite use and ownership of horses. While horses served practical functions for elites, their use and investment in horses clearly went far beyond practicality, since elites used horses recreationally and sought prestigious horses and highly decorated equipment. Their owners used horses in displays of power, status, and wealth, as well as in displays of conspicuous consumption and the performance of gender roles. The social display associated with horses was integrally tied to the ideology and performance of chivalry. This study examines the broader use of horses by elites to understand their place in the elite culture of the High Middle Ages. Author Keywords: Horses, Knighthood, Medieval France, Military History, Nobility, Social History
Edward IV, The Woodvilles, and the Politics of Idealism, C. 1464-83
This thesis examines performance and propaganda in the reign of Edward IV and explores the ways in which Edward, his queen Elizabeth Woodville, and her brother Anthony sought to legitimize their newfound positions. It argues that all three sought to 'perform idealism' to bolster their claims to their respective positions, presenting themselves as close to the contemporary ideal figures of king, queen, and nobleman. This view makes Edward's marriage to Elizabeth a deliberate political act, rather than merely a marriage of love, as some have argued. This thesis argues that 'performing idealism' was thus a deliberate strategy deployed by individuals in a precarious social position to justify their privilege. It also examines chivalry and the Order of the Garter under Edward, his foreign policy, the patronage of William Caxton, and the education of Edward V to explore the many ways Edward sought to justify his claim to the throne. Author Keywords: Anthony Woodville, Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville, England, Queenship, Wars of the Roses
Controlling the Feminine Body in Public
Within this project, I have identified a new pattern of instruction, surrounding women’s bodies and their movement within the public space, present within didactic literature produced during the reign of Charles VI of France (1368-1422). This pattern, present in the texts Le livre du Chevalier de la Tour Landry pour l’instruction de ses filles, Le Menagier de Paris, Le livre des trois vertus and Mirroir des dames, sought to shame control women’s physical presentation in public through use of imagery, stories and fear of pride. Using modern gendered body theory presented by Luce Irigaray and Judith Butler to examine the rise of this pattern, this project then concludes it represents an attempt of the social authority to present a passive feminine body in the public space in order to display male power during a time of social instability. Author Keywords: body history, didactic literature, medieval education, medieval France, women, women's bodies
That They Might Sing the Song of the Lamb
This thesis examines Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)'s theology of music, using as a starting place her letter to the Prelates of Mainz, which responds to an interdict prohibiting Hildegard's monastery from singing the liturgy. Using the twelfth-century context of female monasticism, liturgy, music theory and ideas about body and soul, the thesis argues that Hildegard considered the sung liturgy essential to monastic formation. Music provided instruction not only by informing the intellect but also by moving the affections to embrace a spiritual good. The experience of beauty as an educational tool reflected the doctrine of the Incarnation. Liturgical music helped nuns because it reminded them their final goal was heaven, helped them overcome sin and facilitated participation in the angelic choirs. Ultimately losing the ability to sing the liturgy was not a minor inconvenience, but the loss of a significant spiritual and educational tool fundamental to achieving union with God. Author Keywords: Hildegard of Bingen, Letter to the Prelates of Mainz, liturgy, monasticism, music

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