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'Unstable dream, according to the place': Setting and Convention in Chaucerian Dream Poetry



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Reinbold, Charlotte Rose Alice  ORCID logo


This thesis examines the role of conventions of setting in Chaucerian dream poetry. Setting, by my definition, refers not only to the physical features of landscape in these dreams, such as bedchambers and gardens, but also the position of the genre of dream poetry itself within wider literary contexts. I argue that conventions of setting, familiar themes or locations which create expectations in the reader about the content of the dream itself, provide a valuable and largely overlooked perspective upon the genre of Chaucerian dream poetry. By paying close attention to the way that conventions of setting are combined and altered in the landscapes of Chaucerian dream poetry, we can understand more fully the lines of authorial influence that shape the genre, particularly by considering conventional settings such as the temple of glass that are used by a number of different dream poets in differing contexts. Moreover, by considering the dream in its broader setting or context, as autobiographical reflection, mnemonic device, and simultaneous lament for the ephemeral nature of literature and attempt to preserve oneself for posterity, I argue that we can better understand the nature of the genre as a whole. Throughout, I offer an understanding of the Chaucerian dream poem not only as it was written, but also as it was read and responded to, both by contemporary authors and readers, and later critics.





Cooper, Elizabeth Helen


medieval dream poetry, Chaucer, convention, setting


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Judy and Nigel Weiss Scholarship, Robinson College, Cambridge