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‘To play bi an orchardside’: Orchards as Enclosures of Queer Space in Lanval and Sir Orfeo

Morgan, Amy (2018) ‘To play bi an orchardside’: Orchards as Enclosures of Queer Space in Lanval and Sir Orfeo In: The Medieval and Early Modern Garden in Britain: Enclosure and Transformation, c.1200-1750. Routledge Studies in Cultural History . Routledge, London, pp. 91-101. ISBN 978-1138484740

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In his archaeological study of elite landscapes in the medieval period, Oliver H. Creighton (2009, 47) states that “[g]ardens were, in a sense, transformative, mediating domestic spaces – carefully managed points of interface between the household and the natural world beyond.” It is the transformative, hybrid and liminal space of the enclosed garden that I will examine in this essay. In particular, I will argue that in Marie de France’s Anglo-Norman/Old French, twelfth-century lay Lanval and the anonymous fourteenth-century Middle English Breton lay Sir Orfeo, the transformative nature of the orchard marks the space as inherently queer and creates the potential for transgressive acts and Otherworldly encounters. In Lanval, the setting of the orchard allows Marie de France to invert common conventions of medieval literature and gender politics to present an alternative gender dynamic between knight and lady. It is also the physical space in which the protagonist Lanval is directly accused of sodomy. In Sir Orfeo, the “ympe-tre” (Sir Orfeo, 70. All Middle English references are from Bliss 1966, and modern English translations from Tolkien 1975, with line numbers) in the orchard functions as a limen to the Otherworld and thus the orchard is presented as a permeable space which is open to the supernatural fairies.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages
Authors :
Editors :
Skinner, Patricia
Tyers, Theresa
Date : 12 March 2018
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright 2018 Taylor & Francis
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 13 Nov 2018 10:55
Last Modified : 12 Sep 2019 02:08

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