School of Humanities PGR Colloquium 2022

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


'Communication Channels across Geographical Distances in the Middle English Generides'

Telling the tale of a knight’s travels both literally – across Eastern parts of the world – and figuratively – as he ventures into the dream-realm and adapts to different guises – Generides is a romance narrative where dreams are ubiquitous, both in its two Middle English versions and also, presumably, in the missing French source-text. While the Generides-dreams can warn of forthcoming challenges, which is an established pattern of romance, sometimes they do something more immediate and draw attention to actions that are currently occurring; they act as a means for speedily communicating ‘real-time’ news across a geographical distance.

I argue that the Generides-poets use dreams to substitute for the traditional, slower human messengers who often appear in romances. Kenneth Eckert defines the romance messenger as a ‘hard-working’ character who ‘connects’ narrative ‘threads’, while Jiazhu Hu thinks that they ‘provide an essential channel to facilitate, or […] manipulate, distant interaction between main characters’. Similarly, the ‘real-time’ dreams close gaps: they remove the limitations of geographical distance and align characters to the true intentions of others. While ‘real-time’ dreams prove technically convenient for poets of travel-romances, when one juxtaposes dreams and human messengers, it transpires that dream is the most reliable communication channel.

Period31 May 2022
Event typeConference