I aim to examine the gendered context of objects using a word count analysis across a collection of Breton lais. I use a corpus of lais all translated into English by A. S. Kline’s Open Access Poetry Archive Poetry in Translation including Sir Gawain and the Green KnightThe Twelve Lais by Marie de France, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, and The Arthurian Romances by Chrétien de Troyes.1 I argue object words in this Berton lai corpus reveal the gendered power dynamics of Courtly Love through gendered-object-use. 

About The Project

This is a project prototype for a graduate course on Digital Literature. Through the class, we developed our ability to use the following tools and methods to examine a corpus. Ultimately, I was interested in the question:

What are the gendered or magical contexts of objects in Breton lais?

I used current Medieval literary scholarship to establish my approach to digitization of medieval text, object study, and gender examination of objects. Scholars note recognizing digitization and translation can produce meaning-loss is vital (Davis et. al). Others argue objects can be studied for both their symbolic and use value, providing my basis for the examination of objects and object descriptors in my texts (Perkins). Additionally, scholars taking a gendered approach to objects assert taking a material view of objects as sites of gender analysis allows scholars to look at women’s relationship to objects (Adams and Bradbury). I aim to use these scholars in my approach to examining the gendered power dynamics of Courtly Love through gendered-object-use.

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