‘Be War Be My Wo’: Gaynour and Her Mother in The Awntyrs off Arthure
Most well-known Arthurian narratives make little to no mention of Guinevere’s mother.1 In the fourteenth-century romance The Awntyrs off Arthure, however, the mother of Queen Gaynour (Guinevere) works from beyond the grave to influence her daughter’s personal and political decisions. Her ghostly appearance to Gaynour in the woods during a hunt seems to take place some time after her death, as Gaynour is surprised to learn that her mother suffers in purgatory. Gaynour’s actions as King Arthur’s queen are influenced by the message her mother brings from the afterlife. Despite the fact that she is dead, Gaynour’s mother is still a family member to whom her daughter has responsibility; however, their brief interaction is more than a simple representation of the responsibilities that medieval women had to their dead family members. Gaynour’s mother appears just long enough to provide her daughter with advice on her spiritual and political responsibilities as queen. She reminds Gaynour of her duty to have masses said in her mother’s name, emphasizing her current state of torment, and cautions Gaynour to remember her own mortality. Gaynour and her mother exchange memory for prophecy, as her mother offers advice and predicts the future in return for memorialization
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B. Astrom (ed.), The Absent Mother in the Cultural Imagination, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-49037-3_4
that will alter her current circumstances through masses and prayers. Consequently, the astute assessments of Arthur’s court that her mother makes at her request enable Gaynour to make decisions that are not only spiritually wise but also politically savvy. A consideration of Gaynour’s actions in the context of this relationship offers a new perspective on the text that emphasizes the importance of each of her ‘awntyrs’ (adventures) in the text to the other. From beyond the grave, Gaynour’s mother remains a crucial member of her network of influence, advocating for the welfare of her own soul and profoundly impacting the outcome of a political dispute at the court.
The Awntyrs off Arthure is extant in four fifteenth-century manuscripts, though the story dates to the fourteenth century.2 In the first half of The Awntyrs off Arthure, Sir Gawain and Queen Gaynour, separated from the rest of the court during a hunting trip, encounter the ghost of Gaynour’s unnamed mother, who speaks to each of them, though she states that she has come to speak to Gaynour. She criticizes the extravagance of the court and warns her daughter to be kind to the poor, who can ‘purchas’ peace for Gaynour’s soul through the prayers they will say for her if she is generous to them (line 178). Her complaints about her own current condition move Gaynour to ask her mother if masses said in her name or other ecclesiastical intervention would improve her situation. Her mother replies that they would and goes on to advise her daughter on the best actions and prayers that will keep one in good standing with God. Gawain also asks for advice, voicing concerns about fighting for territory to which the kingdom actually has no right. The ghost warns him that Arthur is ‘to couetous’ and prophesies the doom of Arthur’s reign (line 265). With a final reminder to have masses said in her name, she leaves her daughter and Gawain, who reunite with the rest of the hunting party. This encounter profoundly influences Gaynour’s actions in the next episode of the romance. At supper that night, a lady—like Gaynour’s mother, unnamed—enters the hall and announces a knight, Sir Galeron. He says that Arthur has misappropriated his lands and given them to Gawain and he demands that the court provide a champion to fight him. The next day, Galeron leaves his lady with Gaynour before the judicial duel. Well into the fight, just as Galeron seems to miss an advantageous stroke and Gawain takes the opportunity to grab him by the collar, his lady begs Gaynour to ‘Haf mercy on yondre knijt’ (line 622).3 Influenced by her mother’s stern warnings about Arthur’s misappropriation of lands, Gaynour goes to
Arthur and humbly begs him to stop the fight, which he does. Gawain restores Galeron’s lands and Arthur endows him with others. The court returns to Carlisle and Galeron joins the Round Table and marries his lady. Lastly, Gaynour pays for masses and prayers for her mother. Throughout the text, Gaynour acts on advice from her mother to fulfill her public and private responsibilities as daughter and queen.
Because she is dead, Gaynour’s mother depends upon her daughter to fulfill her duty of providing masses and prayers to ensure that her term in purgatory is as short as possible.4 Although women were responsible for memory and memorialization, that responsibility stemmed less from concern about the past in and of itself than from concern about the future of the dead and their souls, which could be secured if living family members remembered and prayed for them. Elisabeth Van Houts writes that women, ‘kept in touch with the dead through funeral rites, proper mourning, listing the names of the dead, and praying for them’ (Van Houts 2005, 28).5 She goes on to explain that women occasionally experienced visions in which they interacted with dead family members and that, out of concern for the earthly and divine futures of their living loved ones, they often made use of prophecy. In this case, the prophecy of which Gaynour makes use comes directly from the soul of the family member with whom she is concerned and her response in the forest and subsequent actions at the end of the poem are just what they should be. When speaking to her mother, Gaynour asks her, ‘If au^er matens or mas mijt mende ^i mys’ and, a few lines later assures her, ‘Say solely what may ^e sauen of sites/And I sall gar sekestaines signe ^e for ^i sake’ (lines 198 and 209- 210).6 Although Jean E. Jost suggests that Gaynour’s final actions ‘reduc[e] her adventure to its lowest common denominator’ by ‘dismissively order[ing] masses for her mother’s soul’, she fulfils the traditional responsibility of continuing to care for her mother’s soul after her death by arranging for prayers and masses to be said for her all over the country (Jost 2002, 137; Awntyrs lines 703-708). The text is arranged to show approval of the arrangements Gaynour makes; as Thomas Hahn observes in his edition, the ringing of bells at the end of the description of the masses said for Gaynour’s mother is especially significant because, ‘the ringing of bells... in particular marks the passage of a soul from Purgatory; St. Erkenwald (which, like Awntyrs, has connections to the Trental of St. Gregory) ends on this same note’ (Hahn 1995, line 708n). Gaynour has appropriately advocated with
God on her mother’s behalf through the church officials with whom she makes arrangements and endowments for masses and prayers.
The interactions that take place between Arthur’s queen and her mother, however, are more complex than a simple reflection of the responsibilities medieval women had to their dead family members. Gaynour’s mother exchanges memory for prophecy as she requests help from Gaynour. The appearance of Gaynour’s mother, partly to give advice and prophesy the future, partly to bemoan her own current state of affairs, reflects not only medieval concerns with care for the dead and memory and prophecy, but also with medieval practices of gift-giving and petition. Although, at the end of the text, the narrator focuses on the actions that Gaynour takes on her mother’s behalf, the sum of their interactions actually constitutes a kind of exchange. Gaynour’s mother offers advice and predicts the future in return for memorialization that will alter her current circumstances through masses and prayers. Her descriptions of her current circumstances, while partly in the spirit of memento mori, are also meant to accompany her petition for assistance.7 Among her first comments to Gaynour are lines that seem to be more calculated to inspire pity than to prompt Gaynour to contemplate her own mortality, as her mother tells her:
Lo, how delful deth has fii dame digt!
I was radder of rode fien rose in fie ron,
My ler as fie lele lonched so light.
Now am I a graceles gost, and grisly I gron;
With Lucyfer in a lake log am I light.8 (lines 160-164)
She then moves on to encouraging her daughter to look on her and consider her own future:
Thus am I lyke to Lucefere: takis tent by mee!
For al fii fressh foroure,
Muse on fii mirrour;
For king and emperour,
Thus digt shul ye be.9 (lines 165-169)
Throughout their conversation, in addition to giving advice, she employs comments that both inspire pity and motivate contemplation, although those that are in the spirit of memento mori are usually more explicit, whereas those that bemoan her own state often end with a reminder that recasts them in the former spirit.10 Her agenda is clear at the beginning and especially at the end of her appearance. She tells Gawain before he brings Gaynour to her that she is, as Hahn glosses it, ‘without kin’ and wants to speak to Gaynour (lines 151-156).11 When she takes leave of the pair, the last thing she tells Gaynour is to remember to have masses said in her name, reminding her, ‘Vs ^enke a Masse as swete/As eny spice ^at euer ye yete’ (lines 320-323).12 Leah Haught muses on the difficulty of determining the purpose of the ghost’s appearance and whether it is ‘a general condemnation of secular vanity, a criticism of the queen’s behavior in particular, a spiritual guide for the achievement of grace through charity, a personal request for suffrages to assist the spirit’s penance in purgatory, or some combination of all of the above’ (Haught 2010, 9). The answer is ‘some combination of all of the above’, but in a very particular way (9). Hoping for suffrage in return, the ghost offers warnings on the dangers of vanity and advises charity, while warning Gaynour about the future of the court. In addition to asking for prayers for herself, she offers motherly advice, reminding Gaynour that this service and other charitable actions are also good for her own soul.
That exchange is consistent with practices of gift-giving that medieval and early modern women employed to maintain connections in their spheres of influence. To accomplish her goal of moving out of her current tormented state, Gaynour’s mother strategically utilizes contemporary practices of offering a gift in the hopes of receiving a favour or gift in return. The ghost’s early remark to Gawain that she is ‘caughte out of kide’ implies not that she literally has no kin, but that she wishes to re-establish a kinship connection that will make her the object of memor- ialization and prayer that will enable her to enter heaven more quickly (lines 320-323). Gaynour, as her daughter and as a queen with powerful resources to achieve this kind of memorialization, is the ideal and obvious target. In networks maintained in medieval and early modern courts, gifts were often offered in the hopes of currying favor and help in achieving certain goals (Hanawalt 1988, 194-195). The advice and prophecy that Gaynour’s mother presents to her daughter fill the role that other, more material, gifts might in a situation in which both parties were alive, but because she is dead, the information she offers is especially appropriate considering the kind of reciprocation for which she is hoping. Although she makes some of her predictions in response to a question posed by Gawain, they concern Gaynour as well, as they discuss Arthur’s fate and the fate of the kingdom, and they are analogous with the kinds of information many noblewomen were hoping to obtain when they turned to prophecy or fortune-telling to learn about the fates of their families (lines 160-164). This is not to imply that Gaynour’s mother’s approach to her relationship with her daughter is coldly self-serving; however, the way she approaches her is reflective of contemporary understanding of how to utilize personal and social connections to accomplish goals.
Many scholars overlook the importance of this encounter to the latter half of the poem. As Gawain and Gaynour rejoin the hunting party and continue back to court for dinner, her mother’s appearance in the woods does not seem to occupy their thoughts. They do not discuss the event together or with anyone else at dinner or the following day when Gawain faces Galeron. Scholarly conversation on how to construe the relationship between the two episodes is divided. Ralph Hanna and J. O. Fichte, among others, suggest that the episode between Gawain and Galeron is actually a separate poem, joined to the ghost episode by a redactor (1974, 17-24; 1989, 135). A. C. Spearing has argued that the two sections do cohere and has suggested reading the two sections as a diptych (1981, 184-186).13 My reading demonstrates that the insight Gaynour’s mother provides motivates her actions in the latter half of the poem, placing it firmly in the Spearing camp. Galeron demands a judicial duel because he believes that Arthur has unjustly taken possession of his land and given it to Gawain, a striking example of the ghost’s assessment that he is ‘to couetous’ of land (line 265). Despite the connections between the concerns in the two major scenes in the poem, none of these scholars discusses the critical importance of Gaynour’s mother to the second half of the poem.
Gaynour’s queenly intercession at the request of Galeron’s lady is prompted by the crucial advice her mother provides. While more recent scholarship tends to read the poem as a whole, rather than two mismatched stories, most of the discussion still overlooks or underestimates the ghost’s influence. Lee Manion points out that the ghost warns Gawain about Modred’s future usurpation and writes that, ‘Gawain’s question to the ghost about conquering other realms “withouten eny right” is played out in the second half’, but his reading still credits Gawain, Galeron, and Arthur for the resolution at the end of the poem (Manion 2011, 84, 89). Similarly, K. S. Whetter writes that ‘love prevents death’ when Gaynour and Galeron’s lady interfere in the fight, and he asserts that ‘the Awntyrs shows Arthur and Gawain temporarily overcoming the destruction threatened by the ghost earlier in the narrative’ (Whetter 2009, 103). His discussion of love and death in Arthurian romance, however, does not include the important familial bond between Gaynour and her mother. Through her act of prophecy, Gaynour’s mother provides insight that is crucial to her daughter in her actions as queen in the latter part of the poem. The knowledge and foresight that she has gained from her mother about the fate of her family and the court influence Gaynour in her decision to intercede with Arthur to stop the fight between Gawain and Galeron, requiring the knights to come to a more peaceful agreement. Her mother’s warnings have made her more aware of the shortcomings of the court and, keeping their ultimate futures in mind, she acts to encourage the court in better decision-making.
Just as Gaynour’s concern and later intercession for her mother with the church are representative of her responsibility to memorialize and care for her mother’s soul, this intercession in the fight between Gawain and Galeron is analogous with many other literary and historical examples and is representative of what Paul Strohm calls ‘major presuppositions of intercessory queenship’ (1992, 96). The most notable historical figures who acted in this capacity were Edward III’s wife, Philippa, who famously begged her husband not to execute the burghers of Calais, and Anne of Bohemia, who appealed to Richard II for clemency for John Northampton, the Lord Mayor of London (Froissart 1978, 108-109; Hector and Harvey 1982, 93).14 Strohm writes that intercession was an integral part of medieval queenship, arguing, ‘no fourteenth-century queen could have failed to understand that mediatory activities would comprise a large part of her job description’ (1992, 102). Gaynour’s humble petition to Arthur, in which she kneels on the ground and removes her crown before begging him to stop the fight, citing her concern for Gawain, resembles the actions of these historical queens, as each one knelt humbly as she begged the king to make a merciful decision (Awntyrs lines 625-637; Froissart 1978, 108-109; Hector and Harvey 1982, 93). Strohm, discussing the role of queenly intercession after the decline of formal authority held by queens in the twelfth century, notes the ‘vulnerability’ inherent in the function of intercession, which ‘countenanced female challenge to male authority, but only challenges mounted from the margins of the discussion, from a place somewhere outside the bounds of institutions within which decisions are normally made’ (1992, 96). Strohm goes on to emphasize that in the episode described by Froissart, in which Queen Philippa intervened on behalf of the burghers of Calais, the queen ‘has no designated role in this process, that she just happens to be on the scene’ and describes her extremely feminized and submissive aspect in approaching the king (101). In The Awntyrs off Arthure, however, Gaynour is only submissive in her interactions with Arthur before the court, not in her interactions with her mother or with Galeron’s lady.
Although many Middle English romances depict queens filling intercessory roles, very few assert such a compelling perception of the power that the queen has and the power and influence that other women can exercise through their connections with her. Gaynour is not just fulfilling a traditional intercessory role. She is acting in response to a petition from another woman who gains access to power and influence through her and responding to knowledge gained from another member of her network. Through Gaynour, the ghost in the forest achieves her own goal of an early exit from purgatory and also influences the outcome of Galeron’s visit to Arthur’s court. Gaynour’s mother is just as responsible for her act of intercession in the duel as Galeron’s lady, as it is she who alerts Gaynour to the fact that Arthur’s avaricious desire to expand his territory puts the kingdom in jeopardy. This episode demonstrates not only the mediation which Strohm explores, but also the fact that Galeron’s lady only achieves the end she desires through Gaynour’s cooperation and the ghost’s influence. Left under Gaynour’s protection by Galeron, she turns to Gaynour for help not only with confidence that her request falls into an established framework for the queen, who will know what to do with it, but also with the knowledge that, because she is powerless to change the situation on her own, her only option for changing the course of the events as they are taking place is to go through Gaynour. Additionally, although she is not aware of Gaynour’s mother’s influence, she benefits from it.
Each petitioner addresses the queen in a way that reflects an astute understanding of her relationship to Gaynour and her power and rank. Gaynour’s mother begins by asserting her own social position, emphasizing to both Gaynour and Gawain that in life she was, ‘of figure and flesh fairest of alle,/Cristened and crisomed with kinges in my kynne’ (Awntyrs lines 137-138).15 She thereby establishes not only her right to approach her daughter as an equal, but also punctuates the contrast between her position in life and her current situation in purgatory. Her petition is less deferential than that of Galeron’s lady as she is speaking to her daughter and has advice to offer in exchange. Galeron’s lady has no power or authority to stop the judicial duel herself, but knows that the queen has power through her influence on the king, who is presiding over the match between the two knights and can stop it whenever he chooses. She does not directly beg the queen to go to Arthur, but asks her to, ‘Haf mercy on yondre knijt /That is so delfull dijt /If hit be thi wille’ (lines 622-624).16 Her request that Gaynour show mercy demonstrates the power that Gaynour, as the queen, holds in her influence over the king, who holds formal authority, and the last line assertively implies that the decision to stop the fight might actually be Gaynour’s. If Galeron’s lady is, as Allen asserts, ‘a crowned queen’ wearing a ‘crowne of crystal and of clere golde’, this adds to her astute understanding of the leverage Gaynour can provide and how to make her appeal to the queen as attractive as possible (Allen 2000, 7; Awntyrs line 371). Additionally, if she is a queen this poem offers a unique example of three queens exerting their influence over a narrative almost in concert.
This powerful dynamic is far from straightforward, however. In enthusiastically asserting Gaynour’s crucial agency and the importance of her mother’s counsel in her decisions as queen, it is important to remember that none of this equates directly with formal, established authority of the type Arthur wields. Gaynour’s mother and Galeron’s lady both directly assert that Gaynour holds it in her power to achieve their desired outcomes. In both cases, however, Gaynour must appeal to a formal authority— for her mother, the church; and for Galeron’s lady, Arthur himself. This dynamic is most powerfully demonstrated in her appeal to Arthur at the climax of the duel. She does not approach him with an air that reflects profound influence or power. The narrator states that she goes to Arthur and removes her crown before kneeling to him and begging him to stop the fight and ‘Make ^es knightes accorde’ (line 635).17 To Arthur, she cites her concern for Gawain’s safety, despite the fact that Galeron’s lady begged her to have mercy on Galeron. She fears for Gawain’s safety—as he battles Galeron she weeps, ‘For gref of Sir Gawayn, grisly was wound’, but the lady’s petition and her mother’s ominous predictions, not this concern, prompt her to act (line 600). It is crucial to note that despite the urgency her mother’s advice inspires, she makes no mention of meeting her mother’s ghost in the woods to Arthur, at least publicly. She rests her petition on womanly concern, rather than the assessments of his actions made by her mother. This vital, motherly advice from the afterlife goes unacknowledged. In short, the exchange between the women is completely different from the exchange between Gaynour and the figure of authority over whom she must exert her influence. To her mother and
Galeron’s lady, Gaynour is a powerful figure who can save her mother and Galeron if she chooses. To accomplish that goal, she must exercise her influence in a way that demonstrates humility and submissiveness to a formal authority. This necessary approach prevents open acknowledgement of the role of Gaynour’s mother in the outcome of the narrative as a whole. There is a tension between what the reader sees—the centrality of Gaynour’s mother to the outcomes of the narrative, for the men and for the women—and the way Gaynour presents her own motivations. As she approaches her husband, the formal figure of authority who is presiding over the judicial duel, she means for onlookers to see what Strohm writes that Froissart sees in Philippa, that she ‘has no designated role in this process, that she just happens to be on the scene’ and the reader assumes that the rest of the court interprets events in this way (Strohm 1992,101). Gaynour conceals or recasts the implication from Galeron’s lady that she is in a position ofpower here when she speaks to Arthur. The reader sees what Galeron’s lady sees, that, through her actions and petition, Gaynour changes the outcome of the conflict between Galeron and Arthur’s court. Additionally, the reader sees the relevance of Gaynour’s mother’s predictions to the current conflict and her direct influence on Gaynour’s actions. The ghost’s advice may finally influence Gawain as well, as he ultimately cedes the contested lands to Galeron when Arthur endows him with other holdings. Additionally, Gawain invites Galeron to join the Round Table, perhaps hoping to temper further conflict by bringing him into the fold (lines 677-685).
Gaynour’s private relationship with her mother influences her public role as queen and it is important not to compartmentalize her interactions with and on behalf of her mother and Galeron’s lady too strictly. To define her actions on her mother’s behalf as strictly private or personal or to define her interference in the fight as strictly performing a public, political function would be to oversimplify her motivations in the text and underestimate the importance of her mother’s influence. Gaynour’s ability to endow monasteries to pray and say masses for her mother is partly linked to her social and political position as queen. The narrator states that Gaynour, ‘gared wightly write into ^e west/To al ^e religious to rede and to singe’ (lines 703-704).18 If she were less wealthy or of lower social standing, she would not be able to arrange for masses and prayers to be said all over the country by members of the clergy of all ranks and positions (lines 705-708). Gaynour’s intervention in the duel between Gawain and Galeron illustrates the need to consider her actions in a holistic light especially well. Despite the fact that Galeron’s lady provides her with the immediate motivation to intervene, the duel takes place immediately after Gaynour’s ghostly encounter with her mother and concerns the very missteps of which the ghost accused Arthur’s court. This juxtaposition adds a tension and urgency to the clash with Galeron of which only the reader, Gaynour, and Gawain may be aware. Although Gaynour demonstrates notable agency in attending to the appeals of her mother and Galeron’s lady, her mother’s counsel propels her fulfillment of these queenly and daughterly duties. A former queen herself, Gaynour’s mother affects the outcome of the narrative not only for her own soul, but also for Galeron’s lady, who Allen argues is also a queen. Rather than dying or being publicly humiliated after defeat, Galeron joins the Round Table and marries the lady as a result of Gaynour’s decision to act on her mother’s advice. Additionally, her ghostly counsel prompts Gaynour to mitigate or forestall the possible effects of Arthur’s hunger for land on the fate of his kingdom. Despite the fact that she is dead, she remains an important figure from whom Gaynour accepts valuable advice and to whom she is filially responsible.
- 1. I gratefully acknowledge the support of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame, who generously supported research on this text. I also thank Thomas O’Donnell, who provided invaluable advice on an earlier version of this paper, and Melissa McCoul and Erica Machulak for their thoughtful advice.
- 2. For further information on manuscript context and dating, see Hanna 1974, 1-11 and 50-52 and Turville-Petre 1974, 9. Although this essay occasionally remarks on the first and second episodes of the text, the intention is most certainly to read it as one work, per Spearing 1981. See also Allen 2000, Robson 2000, and Ralph Hanna’s introduction to his edition of the poem, pages 17-24. All lines are quoted from Hanna’s edition, The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyn (hereafter cited as Awntyrs).
- 3. ‘have mercy on yonder knight’.
- 4. Many medieval texts depict encounters between living characters and the spirits or animated corpses of their dead family members. These revenants are usually returning to make requests for masses and prayers or attend to unfinished business. For further examples in Middle English, see The Gast of Gy (Foster 2004) and The Three Dead Kings (Turville-Petre 1989).
- 5. Although van Houts’s focus is somewhat earlier than The Awntyrs off Arthure, her discussion of memorialization is relevant to Gaynour’s actions in this text. For the practices of women caring for and memorializing the dead, see also Geary 1994, 60; Binski 2001, 52; Daniell 1997, 43; van Houts 1999; Innes 2001, and Nelson 2000, which usefully reviews much of the conversation.
- 6. ‘If either prayers or masses would mend your difficulty’,... ‘Say, truly, what might save you from your anguish/And I shall command that sextons sing for your sake’.
- 7. For discussions of Gaynour’s mother as memento mori and analogues with the legend of the meeting between the three living and three dead kings, see Haught 2010 and Turville-Petre 1974.
- 8. ‘Lo, how sadly death has treated your mother!/I was redder of complexion than the rose on the branch,/My cheek bloomed like the lily./Now I am a graceless ghost, and grisly I groan;/I have landed low in a lake with Lucifer’ .
- 9. ‘Thus I am like Lucifer: take heed of me!/For all your new, fur-trimmed clothing,/Ponder your reflection;/For, king and emperor,/Thus shall you be condemned’.
- 10. For comments meant to inspire Gaynour to act, see lines 183-193 (recast in lines 194-195), lines 215-221, and lines 230-234. For those that are cast as warnings to her audience to consider the future, see lines 144-152 (though these are only addressed to Gawain) and lines 170-177.
- 11. For gloss see Hahn 1995, note to 151.
- 12. ‘We think a mass as sweet/as any spice you ever ate’.
- 13. See also Roscoe 2014, 49-51.
- 14. See also Taylor 1997,100; Parsons 1996,41; and Strohm 1992, 99 and n.4.
- 15. ‘I was of figure and flesh fairest of all/Baptized and anointed as queen with kings in my family’.
- 16. ‘Have mercy on yonder knight/That is so hopelessly dealt with/If it is your will’.
- 17. ‘Make these knights reconcile’.
- 18. ‘wisely commanded that her messages be sent into the west/To all the religious houses to read and sing’.
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Amanda Bohne is a doctoral candidate in the English department at the University of Notre Dame. She holds an MA in Medieval English Literatures from the University of York. In Spring 2016 she was Visiting Lecturer and Graduate Fellow at the University of Notre Dame in England. Her dissertation explores medieval literary representations of family and community responsibilities concerning death.