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 Degree Discipline: English
 Degree Level: Master's
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
Networks of Social Debt in Early Modern Literature and Culture

Networks of Social Debt in Early Modern Literature and Culture

Date: August 2014
Creator: Criswell, Christopher C.
Description: This thesis argues that social debt profoundly transformed the environment in which literature was produced and experienced in the early modern period. In each chapter, I examine the various ways in which social debt affected Renaissance writers and the literature they produced. While considering the cultural changes regarding patronage, love, friendship, and debt, I will analyze the poetry and drama of Ben Jonson, Lady Mary Wroth, William Shakespeare, and Thomas Middleton. Each of these writers experiences social debt in a unique and revealing way. Ben Jonson's participation in networks of social debt via poetry allowed him to secure both a livelihood and a place in the Jacobean court through exchanges of poetry and patronage. The issue of social debt pervades both Wroth's life and her writing. Love and debt are intertwined in the actions of her father, the death of her husband, and the themes of her sonnets and pastoral tragicomedy. In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (c. 1596), Antonio and Bassanio’s friendship is tested by a burdensome interpersonal debt, which can only be alleviated by an outsider. This indicated the transition from honor-based credit system to an impersonal system of commercial exchange. Middleton’s A Trick to Catch the Old ...
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Across Borders and Barlines: Chicana/o Literature, Jazz Improvisation, and Contrapuntal Solidarity

Across Borders and Barlines: Chicana/o Literature, Jazz Improvisation, and Contrapuntal Solidarity

Date: May 2014
Creator: Leal, Jonathan J.
Description: In this study, I examine Chicana/o writings and Black and Brown musical traditions as they entwine in urban centers and inform local visions of inclusion and models of social change. By analyzing literature and music from South Texas, Southern California, and Northeastern Michigan, I detail how the social particularities of each zone inform Chicana/o cultural productions rooted in the promise of empowerment and the possibility of cross-cultural solidarity. I assert that highlighting localized variations on these themes amplifies contrapuntal solidarities specific to each region, the relationship between different, locally conceived conceptions of Chicana/o identity, and the interplay between Brown and Black aesthetic practices in urban centers near national borders. Through literary critical and ethnomusicological frameworks, I engage the rhetorical patterns that link poetry, jazz improvisation, essays, musical playlists, and corridos to illumine a web of discourses helping to establish the idiosyncratic yet complimentary cultural mores that shape localized social imaginaries in the United States.
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Conjugal Rights in Flux in Medieval Poetry

Conjugal Rights in Flux in Medieval Poetry

Date: May 2014
Creator: Ward, Jessica D.
Description: This study explores how four medieval poems—the Junius manuscript’s Genesis B and Christ and Satan and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and The Parliament of Fowls—engage with medieval conjugal rights through their depictions of agentive female protagonists. Although many laws at this time sought to suppress the rights of women, especially those of wives’, both pre- and post-conquest poets illustrate women who act as subjects, exercising legal rights. Medieval canon and common law supported a certain amount of female agency in marriage but was not consistent in its understanding of what that was. By considering the shifts in law from Anglo-Saxon and fourteenth century England in relation to wives’ rights and female consent, my project asserts that the authors of Genesis B and Christ and Satan and the late-medieval poet Chaucer position their heroines to defend legislation that supports female agency in matters of marriage. The Anglo-Saxon authors do so by conceiving of Eve’s role in the Fall and harrowing of hell as similar to the legal role of a forespeca. Through Eve’s mimesis of Satan’s rhetoric, she is able to reveal an alternate way of conceiving of the law as merciful instead of legalistic. Chaucer also engages with a ...
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Paralysis As “Spiritual Liberation” in Joyce’s Dubliners

Paralysis As “Spiritual Liberation” in Joyce’s Dubliners

Date: May 2014
Creator: Heister, Iven Lucas
Description: In James Joyce criticism, and by implication Irish and modernist studies, the word paralysis has a very insular meaning. The word famously appears in the opening page of Dubliners, in “The Sisters,” which predated the collection’s 1914 publication by ten years, and in a letter to his publisher Grant Richards. The commonplace conception of the word is that it is a metaphor that emanates from the literal fact of the Reverend James Flynn’s physical condition the narrator recalls at the beginning of “The Sisters.” As a metaphor, paralysis has signified two immaterial, or spiritual, states: one individual or psychological and the other collective or social. The assumption is that as a collective and individual signifier, paralysis is the thing from which Ireland needs to be freed. Rather than relying on this received tradition of interpretation and assumptions about the term, I consider that paralysis is a two-sided term. I argue that paralysis is a problem and a solution and that sometimes what appears to be an escape from paralysis merely reinforces its negative manifestation. Paralysis cannot be avoided. Rather, it is something that should be engaged and used to redefine individual and social states.
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Underground Men: Alternative Masculinities and the Politics of Performance in African American Literature and Culture

Underground Men: Alternative Masculinities and the Politics of Performance in African American Literature and Culture

Date: May 2014
Creator: Gray, Jezy J.
Description: This study explores intersections between performance, race and masculinity within a variety of expressive cultural contexts during and after the African American Civil Rights Movement. I maintain that the work of James Baldwin is best situated to help us navigate this cross section, as his fiction and cultural criticism focus heavily on the stage in all its incarnations as a space for negotiating the possibilities and limits of expressive culture in combating harmful racial narratives imposed upon black men in America. My thesis begins with a close reading of the performers populating his story collection Going to Meet the Man (1965) before broadening my scope in the following chapters to include analyses of the diametric masculinities in the world of professional boxing and the black roots of the American punk movement. Engaging with theorists like Judith Butler, bell hooks and Paul Gilroy, Underground Men attempts to put these seemingly disparate corners of American life into a dynamic conversation that broadens our understanding through a novel application of critical race, gender and performance theories. Baldwin and his orbiting criticism remain the hub of my investigation throughout, and I use his template of black genius performance outlined in works like Tell Me ...
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Mr Secrets and Social Media:  the Confession of Richard Rodriguez

Mr Secrets and Social Media: the Confession of Richard Rodriguez

Date: May 2013
Creator: Burns, Amanda Jill
Description: Richard Rodriguez's works create troubling situations for many scholars. Though numerous critics see him as the penultimate Chicano writer, many others see his writing as only pandering to the elite. However, all politics and controversies aside, he is a writer whose ideas upon language and public confession have been revolutionary. Throughout the thesis, I argue that Rodriguez's ideas upon language and identity are applicable to the social media landscape that we reside in currently, especially the public confession. Also, I use deconstructionism, along with postmodern criticism, to illustrate the changing arc of Rodriguez's confession from his first autobiography to his final one. In his first memoir, Rodriguez remains in the closet upon his sexuality, and the reader only catches glimpses of the 'real' character inside his work. In the second memoir, the reader sees a better glimpse because of his coming out; yet, even in this regard, he does not do so wholly and still leaves his confession unfinished. By the third, he applies themes and problems seen in his first and second works to discuss our browning nature, and how we are all sinners and that we desire to confess our sins. In my assessment of Rodriguez, I argue ...
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Naturalist Playwright

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Naturalist Playwright

Date: May 2012
Creator: Tolle, Andrew
Description: This study explores Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s use of the dramatic form to challenge Herbert Spencer’s social Darwinism by offering feminist adaptations of Darwin’s theories of natural and sexual selection. As she does in her career-defining manifesto, Women & Economics (1898), Gilman in her lesser-known plays deploys her own brand of reform Darwinism to serve the feminist cause. Despite her absence in histories of modern drama, Gilman actively participated in the establishment and development of this literary, historical, and cultural movement. After situating Gilman in the context of nineteenth-century naturalist theater, this thesis examines two short dramatic dialogues she published in 1890, “The Quarrel,” and “Dame Nature Interviewed,” as well as two full-length plays, Interrupted (1909) and the Balsam Fir (1910). These plays demonstrate Gilman’s efforts to use the dramatic form in her early plays to “rehearse” for Women & Economics, and in her later drama, to “stage” the theories she presents in that book.
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Relativity In Transylvania And Patusan: Finding The Roots Of Einstein’s Theories Of Relativity In Dracula And Lord Jim

Relativity In Transylvania And Patusan: Finding The Roots Of Einstein’s Theories Of Relativity In Dracula And Lord Jim

Date: December 2011
Creator: Tatum, Brian Shane
Description: This thesis investigates the similarities in the study of time and space in literature and science during the modern period. Specifically, it focuses on the portrayal of time and space within Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1899-1900), and compares the ideas presented with those later scientifically formulated by Albert Einstein in his special and general theories of relativity (1905-1915). Although both novels precede Einstein’s theories, they reveal advanced complex ideas of time and space very similar to those later argued by the iconic physicist. These ideas follow a linear progression including a sense of temporal dissonance, the search for a communal sense of the present, the awareness and expansion of the individual’s sense of the present, and the effect of mass on surrounding space. This approach enhances readings of Dracula and Lord Jim, illuminating the fascination with highly refined notions of time and space within modern European culture.
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Re-Envisioning an Eighteenth-Century Artifact: A Postmodern Reading of Tristram Shandy

Re-Envisioning an Eighteenth-Century Artifact: A Postmodern Reading of Tristram Shandy

Date: August 2011
Creator: Burns, Anthony Louis
Description: The interjection of a new and dynamically different reading of Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy is imperative, if scholars want to clearly see many of the hidden facets of the novel that have gone unexamined because of out-dated scholarship. Ian Watt’s assumption that Sterne “would probably have been the supreme figure among eighteenth-century novelists” (291) if he had not tried to be so odd, and the conclusion that he draws, that “Tristram Shandy is not so much a novel as a parody of a novel” (291), is incorrect. Throughout the thesis, I argue that Sterne was not burlesquing other novelists, but instead, was engaging with themes that are now being examined by postmodern theories of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Jean François Lyotard: themes like the impenetrability of identity (“Don’t puzzle me” (TS 7.33.633)), the insufficiency of language (“Well might Locke write a chapter upon the imperfections of words” (5.6.429)), and the unavailability of permanence (“Time wastes too fast” (9.8.754)). I actively engage with their theories to deconstruct unexamined themes inside Tristram Shandy, and illuminate postmodern elements inside the novel. However, I do not argue that Tristram Shandy is postmodern. Instead, I argue that if the reader examines the novel outside ...
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Generosity and Gentillesse: Economic Exchange in Medieval English Romance

Generosity and Gentillesse: Economic Exchange in Medieval English Romance

Date: May 2011
Creator: Stewart, James T.
Description: This study explores how three English romances of the late fourteenth century-Geoffrey Chaucer's Franklin's Tale, Thomas Chestre's Sir Launfal, and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight-employ economic exchange as a tool to illustrate community ideals. Although gift-giving and commerce are common motifs in medieval romance, these three romances depict acts of generosity and exchange that demonstrate fundamental principles of proper behavior by uniting characters in the poems in spite of social divisions such as gender or social class. Economic imagery in fourteenth-century romances merits particular consideration because of Richard II's prolific expenditure, which created such turbulence that the peasants revolted in 1381. The court's openhanded spending led to social unrest, but in romances a character's largesse strengthens community bonds by showing that all members of a group participate in an idealized gift economy. Positioned within the context of economic tensions, exchange in romances can lead readers to reexamine notions of group identity. Chestre's Sir Launfal unites its community under secular principles of economic exchange and evaluation. Using similar motifs of exchange, the Gawain-poet makes Christian and chivalric ideals apparent through Gawain's service and generosity to all those who follow the Christian faith. Further, Chaucer's Franklin's Tale portrays hospitality ...
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Miscegenated Narration: The Effects of Interracialism in Women's Popular Sentimental Romances from the Civil War Years

Miscegenated Narration: The Effects of Interracialism in Women's Popular Sentimental Romances from the Civil War Years

Date: May 2011
Creator: Beeler, Connie
Description: Critical work on popular American women's fiction still has not reckoned adequately with the themes of interracialism present in these novels and with interracialism's bearing on the sentimental. This thesis considers an often overlooked body of women's popular sentimental fiction, published from 1860-1865, which is interested in themes of interracial romance or reproduction, in order to provide a fuller picture of the impact that the intersection of interracialism and sentimentalism has had on American identity. By examining the literary strategy of "miscegenated narration," or the heteroglossic cacophony of narrative voices and ideological viewpoints that interracialism produces in a narrative, I argue that the hegemonic ideologies of the sentimental romance are both "deterritorialized" and "reterritorialized," a conflicted impulse that characterizes both nineteenth-century sentimental, interracial romances and the broader project of critiquing the dominant national narrative that these novels undertake.
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Fashioning the Domestic Ideology: Women and the Language of Fashion in the Works of Elizabeth Stoddard, Louisa May Alcott, and Elizabeth Keckley

Fashioning the Domestic Ideology: Women and the Language of Fashion in the Works of Elizabeth Stoddard, Louisa May Alcott, and Elizabeth Keckley

Date: December 2010
Creator: Villafranca, Brooke
Description: Women authors in mid to late nineteenth century American society were unafraid to shed the old domestic ideology and set new examples for women outside of racial and gender spheres. This essay focuses on the ways in which Elizabeth Stoddard's The Morgesons, Louisa May Alcott's Behind a Mask, and Elizabeth Keckley's Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House represent the function of fashion and attire in literature. Each author encourages readers to examine dress in a way that defies the typical domestic ideology of nineteenth century America. I want my readers to understand the role of fashion in literature as I progress through each work and ultimately show how each female author and protagonist set a new example for womanhood through their fashion choices.
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Literature in the Age of Science: Technology and Scientists in the Mid-Twentieth Century Works of Isaac Asimov, John Barth, Arthur C. Clarke, Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut

Literature in the Age of Science: Technology and Scientists in the Mid-Twentieth Century Works of Isaac Asimov, John Barth, Arthur C. Clarke, Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut

Date: August 2010
Creator: Simes, Peter A.
Description: This study explores the depictions of technology and scientists in the literature of five writers during the 1960s. Scientists and technology associated with nuclear, computer, and space science are examined, focusing on their respective treatments by the following writers: John Barth, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke. Despite the close connections between the abovementioned sciences, space science is largely spared from negative critiques during the sixties. Through an analysis of Barth's Giles Goat-boy, Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Asimov's short stories "Key Item," "The Last Question," "The Machine That Won the War," "My Son, the Physicist," and Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is argued that altruistic goals of space science during the 1960s protect it from the satirical treatments that surround the other sciences.
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Hand Amputees have an Altered Perception of Images at Arm's Length

Hand Amputees have an Altered Perception of Images at Arm's Length

Access: Use of this item is restricted to the UNT Community.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Irizarry, Justin Lee
Description: The preface to this collection "Dust Clouding: Ambiguity and the Poetic Image," highlights the ways in which poets such as W.S Merwin and Donald Revell use ambiguity and the poetic image to strengthen their poems and encourage equality between reader and writer. Hand Amputees have an Altered Perception of Images at Arm's Length is a collection of poems and poem like adventures.
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The Sacred and the Profane: Nin, Barnes, and the Aesthetics of Amorality

The Sacred and the Profane: Nin, Barnes, and the Aesthetics of Amorality

Date: August 2009
Creator: Dunbar, Erin
Description: Barnes's Vagaries Malicieux, and Nin's Delta of Venus, are examples the developing vision of female sex, and both authors use their literary techniques to accomplish their aesthetic vision of amorality. Nin's visions are based on her and her friends' extreme experiences. Her primary concern was expressing her erotic and amorally aesthetic gaze, and the results of her efforts are found in her aesthetic vision of Paris and the amoral lifestyle. Barnes uses metaphor and linguistics to fashion her aesthetic vision. Her technique in "Run, Girls, Run!" both subverts any sense of morality, and offers an interesting and challenging read for its audience. In "Vagaries Malicieux" Barnes's Paris is dark while bright, and creates a sense of nothingness, indicated only by Barnes's aesthetic appreciation.
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Transnational Compositionality and Hemon, Shteyngart, Díaz; A No Man's Land, Etc.

Transnational Compositionality and Hemon, Shteyngart, Díaz; A No Man's Land, Etc.

Date: August 2009
Creator: Miner, Joshua D.
Description: Contemporary transnational literature presents a unique interpretive problem, due to new methods of language and culture negotiation in the information age. The resulting condition, transnational compositionality, is evidenced by specific linguistic artifacts; to illustrate this I use three American novels as a case study: Nowhere Man by Aleksandar Hemon, Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart, and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. By extension, many conventional literary elements are changed in the transnational since modernity: satire is no longer a lampooning of cultures but a questioning of the methods by which humans blend cultures together; similarly, complex symbolic constructions may no longer be taken at face value, for they now communicate more about cultural identity processes than static ideologies. If scholars are to achieve adequate interpretations of these elements, we must consider the global framework that has so intimately shaped them in the twenty-first century.
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The Politics of Translation: Authorship and Authority in the Writings of Alfred the Great

The Politics of Translation: Authorship and Authority in the Writings of Alfred the Great

Date: August 2008
Creator: Crumbley, Allex
Description: The political implications of the OE prose translations of King Alfred (849-899) are overlooked by scholars who focus on the literary merits of the texts. When viewed as propaganda, Alfred's writings show a careful reshaping of their Latin sources that reaffirms Alfred's claim to power. The preface to Pastoral Care, long understood to be the inauguration of Alfred's literary reforms, is invested with highly charged language and a dramatic reinvention of English history, which both reestablishes the social hierarchy with the king more firmly in place at its head and constructs the inevitability of what is actually a quite radical translation project. The translations themselves reshape their readers' understanding of kingship, even while creating implicit comparison between Alfred and the Latin authors.
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Shared Spaces: The Human and the Animal in the Works of Zora Neale Hurston, Mark Twain, and Jack London

Shared Spaces: The Human and the Animal in the Works of Zora Neale Hurston, Mark Twain, and Jack London

Date: August 2008
Creator: Harper, Pamela Evans
Description: Living in tune with nature means respecting the natural environment and realizing its power and the ways it manifests in daily life. This essay focuses on the ways in which respect for nature is expressed through animal imagery in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Mark Twain's "The Stolen White Elephant," Roughing It, and Pudd'nhead Wilson, and Jack London's The Call of the Wild. Each author encouraged readers to seek the benefits of nature in order to become better human beings, forge stronger communities, and develop a more unified nation and world. By learning from the positive example of the animals, we learn how to share our world with them and with each other.
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Paradox and Balance in the Anglo-Saxon Mind of Beowulf

Paradox and Balance in the Anglo-Saxon Mind of Beowulf

Date: May 2008
Creator: Fox, Bonnie L.
Description: This essay argues that the Anglo-Saxon poet of Beowulf presents the reader with a series of paradoxes and attempts to find a balance within these paradoxes. At the forefront is the paradox of past and present, explored through the influence of the past on the characters in the poem as well as the poet. Additionally, the poem offers the paradox of light and dark, which ultimately suggests light and dark as symbols of Christianity and paganism. Finally, the land and the sea offer the third primary paradox, indicating the relationship that the characters and poet had with land and sea, while also reflecting the other paradoxes in the poem. The result is the desire to find balance within the paradoxes through the recognition of ongoing tension.
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A Comparison of Morris' News from Nowhere and Life in the Twin Oaks Community

A Comparison of Morris' News from Nowhere and Life in the Twin Oaks Community

Date: December 2007
Creator: Garner, Royce Clifton
Description: It is the purpose of this paper to explore how Morris' novel relates to life in Twin Oaks, primarily as depicted in two books: Living the Dream (1983) by Ingrid Komar, a long-term visitor to the commune and Kinkade's Is It Utopia Yet? (1996). This comparison will demonstrate that the experiences of contemporary intentional communities such as Twin Oaks provide a meaningful context for reading News from Nowhere because of the similarities in goals and philosophy. It will further demonstrate that though Twin Oaks was originally inspired by a utopian novel much more in the tradition of Bellamy's work than Morris', the community's subsequent evolution has brought it much closer in philosophy to News from Nowhere than Looking Backward.
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Murky Impressions of Postmodernism: Eugene Gant and Shakespearean Intertext in Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River

Murky Impressions of Postmodernism: Eugene Gant and Shakespearean Intertext in Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River

Date: December 2007
Creator: Miller, Brenda
Description: In this study, I analyze the significance of Shakespearean intertextuality in the major works of Thomas Wolfe featuring protagonist Eugene Gant: Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River. Specifically, I explore Gant's habits and preferences as a reader by examining the narrative arising from the protagonist's perspectives of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and King Lear. I examine the significance of parallel reading habits of Wolfe the author and Gant the character. I also scrutinize the plurality of Gant's methods of cognition as a reader who interprets texts, communicates his connections with texts, and wars with texts. Further, I assess the cumulative effect of Wolfe's having blurred the boundaries between fiction and reality, between the novel and drama. I assert, then, that Wolfe, by incorporating a Shakespearean intertext, reveals aspects indicative of postmodernism.
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The Search for Cultural Identity: An Exploration of the Works of Toni Morrison

The Search for Cultural Identity: An Exploration of the Works of Toni Morrison

Date: December 2007
Creator: Conway, Jennifer S.
Description: Many of Toni Morrison's African-American characters attempt to change their circumstances either by embracing the white dominant culture that surrounds them or by denying it. In this thesis I explore several ways in which the characters do just that-either embrace or deny the white culture's right to dominion over them. This thesis deals primarily with five of Toni Morrison's novels: The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Paradise, Sula, and Tar Baby.
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Vulgar Moon

Vulgar Moon

Date: December 2007
Creator: Miller, Kelley Reno
Description: The preface to this collection, "Speculation and Silence," argues that confessional poetry remains integral to contemporary poetics, though the implications of the term have changed since its "first-generation." Confessional poetry must not be dependent on simply the transmission of sensational details and the emotional consequences, but on poets' implementation of silence and restraint in both the diffusion of ideas and in the crafting of the piece. Vulgar Moon is a collection of poems in which I explore the implications of events ranging from erotic love and motherhood, to the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, and Jewish history. In addition, these pieces explore the inner workings of the human psyche, both tender and malignant, and the inherent human need for absolution.
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Bridging the Gap: Finding a Valkyrie in a Riddle

Bridging the Gap: Finding a Valkyrie in a Riddle

Date: May 2007
Creator: Culver, Jennifer
Description: While many riddles exist in the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book containing female characters, both as actual human females and personified objects and aspects of nature, few scholars have discussed how the anthropomorphized “females” of the riddles challenge and broaden more conventional portrayals of what it meant to be “female” in Anglo-Saxon literature. True understanding of these riddles, however, comes only with this broader view of female, a view including a mixture of ferocity and nobility of purpose and character very reminiscent of the valkyrie (OE wælcyrige), a figure mentioned only slightly in Anglo-Saxon literature, but one who deserves more prominence, particularly when evaluating the riddles of the Exeter Book and two poems textually close to the riddles, The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer, the only two poems with a female voice in the entire Old English corpus. Riddles represent culture from a unique angle. Because of their heavy dependence upon metaphor as a vehicle or disguise for the true subject of the riddle, the poet must employ a metaphor with similar characteristics to the true riddle subject, or the tenor of the riddle. As the riddle progresses, similarities between the vehicle and the tenor are listed for the reader. Within ...
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