• Defamiliarizing Melancholy: The Functions of Eco-Aesthetics and the Pearl-poet

    Tarren Andrews (see profile)
    Ecocriticism, Environmental Humanities, Medieval English Literature, Medieval Studies
    Aesthetics, Death in literature, Ecocriticism, Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Conf. Org.:
    Tufts University
    Conf. Loc.:
    Boston, MA
    Conf. Date:
    Oct 2014
    Beauty, Pearl Poem, Thomas Aquinas
    Permanent URL:
    Scholarship on the Pearl-poem has seen a significant jump in recent years, due largely to the influx of eco-critical readings throughout Medieval studies. Gillian Rudd’s recent book Greenery: Ecocritical Readings of Late Medieval English Literature explores a new and exciting reading of the poem’s natural environment, claiming that the rose metaphor which dominates the second section reveals a new reading of who the Pearl Maiden might be, while poet’s other major work, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, has been, in many ways, the flagship text for eco-medieval-critics. However, exploring the two texts together, as individual parts of literary eco-system, reveals that there is much more to say about the Pearl-poet’s relationship to nature and the effect this has on his (or her) work as a whole. This paper will focus both on the place of the Pearl-poem in the larger genre of dream vision literature and on the role of natural aesthetic in the Dreamer’s grieving process. Cornerstones of this research will include Robert Pogue Harrison’s The Dominion of the Dead and his concept of objectification as way to assuage grief, Carolyn Dinshaw and her eco-critical work relating the Green Knight to the cloister heads in Northern England, and Paul Peihler’s concept of the purpose of visionary literature. Examining the landscape of Pearl, in conjunction with the natural environments of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which act as a penetrating force into the relative calm of Arthur’s human court, I will to reveal the poet’s intentions of creating a defamiliarizing eco-aesthetic whose ultimate purpose is to mitigate the psychological damage of losing a loved one.
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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