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dc.contributor.authorMitchell, John Allan.en_US
dc.date.accessioned2014-10-21T12:37:20Z
dc.date.available2014-10-21T12:37:20Z
dc.date.issued2002en_US
dc.identifier.otherAAINQ75721en_US
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10222/55873
dc.descriptionI argue that John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer engage in a case-based ethics, or moral casuistry, which has roots in traditions of Aristotelian ethics and Ciceronian rhetoric passed down through the Middle Ages in a wide variety of philosophical, rhetorical, and homiletic sources. Focusing on Gower's Confessio Amantis and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, I claim that the fourteenth-century poets presuppose an approach to discovering practical precepts that depends on both the rhetoric of exemplarity and the deliberation of readers. The thesis is therefore an interdisciplinary investigation into the ethical and aesthetic qualities of early English literature.en_US
dc.descriptionAs a metaethical inquiry, my study inaugurates a critique of the notion that morality in the Middle Ages was invariably restricted to a uniform system of values, a naive conception of divine-command, or prescriptive ideological statements. A range of evidence suggests instead that there was considerable latitude, autonomy, and imagination involved in personal ethical decision making, because moral guidance was to be derived from exemplary narratives rather than by a deduction of rules from abstract norms . My research is therefore intended to contest the view that the moral rhetoric was strictly normative, reductive, or ideological. At the same time, I acknowledge that norms and reductive reasoning were indispensable to formulating practical precepts.en_US
dc.descriptionMy particular literary-critical focus is the virtues and vices of exemplary narrative as Gower and Chaucer saw them. Exemplarity expresses a flexible and improvisatory approach towards moral deliberation, but while this pragmatic orientation is acceptable and useful to Gower and Chaucer, both are attentive to its abuses. I maintain that in their separate critiques the poets do not thereby renounce exemplary narrative ethics. Neither Chaucer nor Gower is as didactic or pragmatic as are many contemporary practitioners, yet finally both poets choose to conduct their different moral criticisms by employing paradigm cases to address practical concerns. An appreciation of the poets' related metaethics therefore allows us to recover a sense of the many moral dimensions---so little emphasized in literary criticism today---of their exemplary art.en_US
dc.descriptionThesis (Ph.D.)--Dalhousie University (Canada), 2002.en_US
dc.languageengen_US
dc.publisherDalhousie Universityen_US
dc.publisheren_US
dc.subjectLiterature, Medieval.en_US
dc.subjectLiterature, English.en_US
dc.titleReading for the moral: The ethics of exemplarity in Middle English literature.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.contributor.degreePh.D.en_US
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