Dialogue and dialectic in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Occitan and old French courtly lyric and narrative

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis considers how dialectic, dialogue and debate contribute to the
construction of the courtly subject in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Old French and Occitan lyric and narrative. It considers how debate and dialogue are informed by dialectic, which acts as a structural and thematic frame and gives courtly debate its distinctive oppositional tone. I argue that dialectic underpins debate lyrics; dialogues within narrative texts; and monologues (within lyrics and narratives) which break down into clear internal dialogue, or which use formal structures which are suggestive of dialogue. Chapter one stands as an introduction to the substantial tradition of debate both in Occitan and in Northern French. Chapter two considers a major theme in courtly literature, silence and secrecy, in the context of debate. Chapter three addresses dialogic forms within monologue, whether in single-voiced lyric poems or in monologues delivered by characters in narrative texts. Chapter four examines women’s desire, within the framework of dialogue, asking how dialogue shapes and constructs the feminine voice. Each chapter considers a range of courtly lyrics that are not in dialogue form, but which use the formal properties of dialogue, in addition to contemporary verse narratives. Research questions include what dialogue can tell us about the construction of the speaking voice in courtly literature; how dialogue constructs the feminine voice; and how dialogue inscribes cultural difference.
Date of Award3 May 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorSimon Gaunt (Supervisor) & Karen Pratt (Supervisor)

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