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Rebecca Ellen Newby

Research student, English Literature, School of English, Communication and Philosophy

Email:
newbyr1@cardiff.ac.uk
Location:
0.44, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU

I am a doctoral candidate with a strong academic record, working in English and French medieval studies. I teach first-year literature modules, and have contributed to a third-year module on French Arthurian romances. I regularly attend research seminars in the Medieval and Early Modern Research Initiative (MEMORI) series, of which I am also a member, and those of the Centre for the Study of Medieval Society and Culture (CSMSC), both convened at Cardiff University.

I have given several conference papers on topics ranging from the medieval ‘king-and-subject’ ballad tradition to narrative closure in Chrétien de Troyes' Erec et Enide; I have completed a journal article on the latter subject, forthcoming in the next edition of Arthurian Literature in early 2018. I gave a version of this paper at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI in May 2017, for which I was nominated for the ‘Fair Unknown Award’ for the best early-career researcher. I also organised a postgraduate conference that took place at Cardiff University in June 2017 and I am the English Strand Editor of the AHRC journal Question

I have been awarded several prizes and scholarships, including funding for my MA study (from which I graduated with Distinction) and the Sir Julian Hodge Prize for the best performance in BA English Literature. In 2015, I won funding from the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnerships (AHRC) for my current research project.

Research interests

Medieval Literature, Medieval Romance, Geoffrey Chaucer, Chrétien de Troyes, Endings, Closure, Medieval Literary Theory.

Thesis

The Ends of Romance in Chr├ętien and Chaucer

My research looks at the different ways in which medieval romances end, and I am particularly interested in unfinished texts. Several scholars have recently investigated the continuations that spanned from the incomplete works of major poets like Chrétien de Troyes, a prolific court poet of twelfth-century France, and perhaps the most important English poet of all time, Geoffrey Chaucer. However, there is no detailed comparative study of the construction and jettison of the works that inspired these continuations, and the cultural significance of these ‘unwhole’ texts, despite their prevalence in the medieval literary canon.


Chrétien’s Perceval ou Le conte du graal, as well as his tale of Lancelot, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are all examples of distinguished medieval romances that could be deemed incomplete in some way. My project sets out to investigate this kind of literary production over the course of the medieval period, from a compositional standpoint – focusing on these texts in particular – and hopes to shed new light on the phenomenon by reading these texts in dialogue with one another.


This research project is important because the cultural values, functions and aesthetic considerations of unwhole medieval texts are far more complex than has traditionally been understood; they are not necessarily the result of accident, misfortune or incompetence, and deserve a more in depth investigation than they have previously been given. In exploring these ideas, this thesis hopes to provide some insight into how we understand a text as finished or unfinished, as well as the different types of endings and narrative closure in medieval romance, and perhaps offer a more fluid model of textual completion in the Middle Ages.

Funding source

South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (Arts and Humanities Research Council)

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