Date of Award

5-1-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Amos, Mark

Abstract

This dissertation explores the utopian and dystopian tones of apocalypticism in medieval secular literature and how literary authors treated the end of time. Beginning with two different representational models of medieval apocalyptic, notably those of St Augustine of Hippo and of Joachim of Fiore, this study examines to what extent selected literary texts adhered to or deviated from those models. Those texts include Marie de France's Espurgatoire seint Patriz, William Langland's Piers Plowman, Geoffrey Chaucer's The Pardoner's Tale, and Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'arthur. This dissertation reveals that several texts subscribed to an expectation of cosmic and personal annihilation, in the Augustinian representation, or of global transformation in the Joachist version. Nearly all of the texts agree in their bleak outlook regarding the end of time, suggesting a climate of fear predominated in the Middle Ages. While the projected Christian eschatological timeline should have fostered hope for the saved, what it produced was often terrors of eternity and emptiness.

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