Destroying the Legitimate Body : Embodied Nobility in the Alliterative Morte Arthure

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Lee, Don Hee

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서울대학교 인문대학 영어영문학과
영학논집, Vol.34, pp. 19-31
bodynobilityidentitychivalric romanceKing Arthurlegitimacysubversion
The idea that nobility derives from, and can be located in, the body served to perpetuate and justify the social order of the later middle ages. Chivalric romances conventionally employ the theme of the noble body, which at once manifests and proves the nobility of figure of the knight. Alliterative Morte Arthure, too, in its depiction of King Arthurs body, employs this theme in a narrative effort to legitimize British history. Arthurs body is elaborately constructed through the depiction of his armor, but the very same impulse that underlies this effort to construct a legitimate body undermines itself when the poem creates a troublingly realistic picture of the bodys grotesque disintegration that reduces all bodies to its essential physicality. Reduced to indiscriminate body parts, which are then associated with horror and disgust, the ideology of the embodied nobility, which depends on the idea of the bodys essential distinguishablility is undermined. By problematizing the very idea that nobility can be transferred through a lineage originating from a distant past, the poem reveals the inherent contradiction within the ideology hereditary nobility itself.
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College of Humanities (인문대학)English Language and Literature (영어영문학과)영학논집(English Studies)영학논집(English Studies) No.34 (2014)
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