Session 1017: Youth and Age in Middle English Literature
Wednesday 13 July 2005, 09.00-10.30
|Moderator/Chair:||Karen Smyth, School of English, Queen's University, Belfast|
|Paper 1017-a||The Sins of Youth and Age in Piers Plowman|
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English
|Paper 1017-b||The Squire’s Tale: 'Considerynge thy yowthe'|
Index terms: Daily Life, Language and Literature - Middle English
|Paper 1017-c||The Lexical Semantics of Youth and Age in the N-Town Corpus Christi Play/s|
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Performance Art - Drama
Abstract paper a) The idea of sin is a social construct. A literary text, of course, is likewise. Both reflect the cultural norms and activities of the society which created them: there would be little point in Langland’s railing against marriage-for-profit if such marriages were not being arranged in his lifetime. This paper explores the degree to which, in Piers Plowman, particular sins are associated with one’s time of life. It tests, for instance, the validity of the notion that lechery is the vice of youth while avarice is that of old age. It questions whether there is any useful correspondence between sin and age. All seven of the Deadly Sins will be considered.
Paper b) Youth and age do constant battle in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. This is perhaps most evident through the mischievous young tricksters in the tales of Fragment I, all of whom display a general lack of respect for their elders. However, such is not the case for the youthful Squire. My analysis of the Squire’s Tale_ attempts to show just how the Squire is praised for his youthfulness by the poet. By examining the Squire’s interests and intellect, Chaucer’s treatment of the words ‘old’ and ‘new’, and Chaucer’s use of language in both the Squire’s Tale and the Retraction, my paper explores new possibilities for one of the most neglected tales.
Paper c) In this paper I am going to undertake a linguistic study of the lexical semantic field of Youth and Age that we encounter in the N-town Corpus Christi Play/s. This linguistic analysis will try to provide further sources in order to bring to light more evidence on composition and performance of the text.