Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Ashby Kinch

Commitee Members

John Hunt , Paul Dietrich


Grief, mourning, ethics, medieval, material culture, immaterial culture


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Cultural History | Literature in English, British Isles | Medieval History | Medieval Studies | Other English Language and Literature


This project is a socio-historic analysis of two late 14th century dream visions: Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess and the Pearl poem. Utilizing Robert Pogue Harrison’s concept of objectifying grief through ritualized communal mourning, this thesis examines the ways in which mourning literature functioned as consolatory device, and a form of public performance for the powerful patrons who commissioned the pieces. By engaging with pre-existing communities of grief, material culture, and courtly discourse these poems perform the work of mourning while simultaneously enacting modes of public performativity that stress the ethics of grieving, and suggest that, for royal patrons, it is imperative for the stability of the commonwealth that they respond appropriately to loss. In performing the work of mourning the texts advocate for a unity between public and private selves, enacting the principle that for a great leader the private is always public.



© Copyright 2015 Tarren Andrews