Countries of the mind: Conceptualizing Imaginative Reality in "Beowulf" and other medieval narratives.
Sims, Harley Jerrod.
383 leaves.
Microform, Thesis
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Electronic version licensed for access by U. of T. users.
dissertation note
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2009.
general note
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 71-01, Section: A, page: 0177.
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ROBARTS MICROTEXT copy on microfiche.
Beowulf is both unique and typical of medieval narrative literature. Though its imaginative elements support a growing amount of scholarly and popular interest, the poem's appeal to the imagination of the modern reader is often left implicit. The situation has created no small demand for organizing principles and publications, and critics have increasingly suggested that study of the poem be made more relevant to the lives of its students. That thousand year-old texts might accommodate a modern sense of reality is perhaps romantic if stated so simply, and yet Beowulf and narratives from numerous medieval corpora are often described as evincing a combination of fact and fiction. Despite the ubiquity of this convention and the naturalistic standards it begs, little has been done to explain just how fact and fiction might be dichotomized when self-contained works appear to amalgamate them.Having identified these issues, Countries of the Mind endeavours to establish a consistent conceptual approach to literature whose elements have been or might be described as both real and imaginary. Though Beowulf serves as something of a case-study, literatures from several medieval, ancient, and modern corpora are also involved. The viability of "Imaginative Reality" is advanced over six chapters, all of which employ various contrary and supporting ideas to develop their positions; Northrop Frye and Wolfgang Iser furnish much of this material, respectively. Effectively a productive adaptation of reader-response theory, the approach treats the fictional worlds of literature as hypothetically concrete, whereby the reader suggests models of actual experience and reconstitutes them using interpretive argumentation. Matters such as world-building, fictive interiority, narrative credibility, and metaphor are addressed in individual sections of the chapters; obstacles identified include historicist, scientistic, and philological conventions, all of which must in some way presuppose the reader's conception of an imaginative element. Chapter Six examines heroism and physical strength in the world of Beowulf, concluding the study by exemplifying Imaginative Reality and using the grip strength of Swedish strongman Magnus Samuelsson as an interpretive model.
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