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Prison Literature in Medieval England

Faculté de gestion: Faculté des lettres

Responsable(s): Denis Renevey
Intervenant(s): -

Période de validité: 2016 -> 2016

Pas d'horaire défini.


Semestre de printemps
2 heures par semaine
28 heures par semestre

Langue(s) d'enseignement: anglais
Public: Oui
Crédits: 0


Whether the emergence of poems written in conditions of physical captivity or on the subject of imprisonment is linked to a period of upheaval in Europe is difficult to assess. This seminar explores what one can label 'prison poetry', but it also takes very seriously the physical conditions of imprisonment in which James I of Scotland, Charles d'Orléans and George Ashby found themselves when writing The Kingis Quair, Fortunes Stabilnes and Complaint of a Prisoner in the Fleet 1463, respectively. We will also read the anonymous Complaint of A Prisoner against Fortune and The Lufaris Complaynt. Prison will be investigated as a place, but also as an idea, as one can experience imprisonment as a frustrating form of relationship to the world, or more specifically to a court, a circle of companions, a lover, etc.

The texts under consideration offer a fascinating demonstration of the ways in which medieval authors use the genre of prison poetry, but it also takes very seriously the real-life circumstances of imprisonment that some of these authors experienced. As we shall see, literal imprisonment was not necessarily a source of physical discomfort. Indeed, royal prisoners were often involved in the social life of their noble keepers, and often found as noble prisoners favourable conditions for creative activity.

The set text for this seminar is The Kingis Quair and Other Prison Poems, ed. by Linne R. Mooney and Mary-Jo Arn, TEAMS Middle English Texts Series (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2005); available online at:


To be announced, Week 1

Informations supplémentaires


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Swiss University
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