My dissertation examines works from medieval and early modern Cheshire in their local contexts, exploring the ways in which both the county and city of Chester imagined themselves as communities separate and distinct from their English and Welsh neighbors. Derived from Cheshire's designation as an Anglo-Norman palatinate (an administrative region possessing quasi-royal powers and rights), this sense of local, palatine identity emerges in response to the historical loss of the county's unique status and its ongoing incorporation into the institutional structures of the English state. The dissertation combines an analysis of those processes with the close reading of Cheshire's written and performative traditions in both their topographical and textual dimensions. Indeed, Writing from the Marches ultimately argues for the material localization of British literary history. It "goes to ground," showing how the regional exploration of questions of nationality destabilizes the ideal of an English nation and its literary canon. Writing from the Marches also challenges traditional schemes of literary periodization, using the evidence of local difference to complicate the transition between medieval and Renaissance periods. In doing so, it replaces models of simultaneous, centralized assimilation with ongoing sequences of socio-textual negotiation between Cheshire institutions and those of an emergent Britain. The first three chapters of Writing from the Marches offer a continuous history of local self-definition in the city of Chester, beginning with the medieval monastic productions of Lucian and Henry Bradshaw and ending with the competing 1610 triumphs held in London and Chester to honor Henry Frederick Stuart's creation as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. In between the dissertation puts the Chester mystery cycle back into its sixteenth-century context, arguing for the productive role of the cycle's performance sites in generating local, political meanings. The fourth and final chapter of the project returns to the fourteenth-century romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: it uses the Scrope-Grosvenor heraldic controversy of 1385--1391 (Grosvenor was a Cheshire knight) as a guide to understanding the poem's anxieties about inter-regional encounters and chivalric identities grounded in topography.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 62-11, Section: A, page: 3776. Adviser: David J. Wallace. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Pennsylvania, 2001.