The long line of the Middle English alliterative revival : rhythmically coherent, metrically strict, phonologically English

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The long line of the Middle English alliterative revival : rhythmically coherent, metrically strict, phonologically English

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Title: The long line of the Middle English alliterative revival : rhythmically coherent, metrically strict, phonologically English
Author: Psonak, Kevin Damien
Abstract: This study contributes to the search for metrical order in the 90,000 extant long lines of the late fourteenth-century Middle English Alliterative Revival. Using the 'Gawain'-poet's 'Patience' and 'Cleanness', it refutes nineteenth- and twentieth-century scholars who mistook rhythmic liveliness for metrical disorganization and additionally corrects troubling missteps that scholars have taken over the last five years. 'Chapter One: Tame the "Gabble of Weaker Syllables"' rehearses the traditional, but mistaken view that long lines are barely patterned at all. It explains the widely-accepted methods for determining which syllables are metrically stressed and which are not: Give metrical stress to the syllables that in everyday Middle English were probably accented. 'Chapter Two: An Environment for Demotion in the B-Verse' introduces the relatively stringent metrical template of the b-verse as a foil for the different kind of meter at work in the a-verse. 'Chapter Three: Rhythmic Consistency in the Middle English Alliterative Long Line' examines the structure of the a-verse and considers the viability of verses with more than the normal two beats. An empirical investigation considers whether rhythmic consistency in the long line depends on three-beat a-verses. 'Chapter Four: Dynamic "Unmetre" and the Proscription against Three Sequential Iambs' posits an explanation for the unusual distributions of metrically unstressed syllables in the long line and finds that the 'Gawain'-poet's rhythms avoid the even alternation of beats and offbeats with uncanny precision. 'Chapter Five: Metrical Promotion, Linguistic Promotion, and False Extra-Long Dips' takes the rest of the dissertation as a foundation for explaining rhythmically puzzling a-verses. A-verses that seem to have excessively long sequences of offbeats and other a-verses that infringe on b-verse meter prove amenable to adjustment through metrical promotion. 'Conclusion: Metrical Regions in the Long Line' synthesizes the findings of the previous chapters in a survey of metrical tension in the long line. It additionally articulates the key theme of the dissertation: Contrary to traditional assumptions, Middle English alliterative long lines have variable, instead of consistent, numbers of beats and highly regulated, instead of liberally variable, arrangements of metrically unstressed syllables.
Department: English
Subject: Linguistics Language Phonology Phonological English Accent Rhythm Medieval Middle English Alliteration Poetry Philology Metrical Poetics Prosody Metrical stress Beat Gawain Chaucer Verse Promotion Demotion Tension Pause Iambic pentameter Patience Cleanness Yakovlev Cable Chomsky Minkova Brogan Saintsbury Wimsatt Beardsley Pearl Duggan Shakespeare Beowulf
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2152/ETD-UT-2012-05-5044
Date: 2012-05

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