Hic herde a strif bitweies two: A study of the principal Middle English Debate Poems with special reference to the Bird Debates and the Devotional Debates, their analogues and sources
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The thesis is an investigation into the Bird Debates and Devotional Debates found in Middle English: emphasis is placed on the origin of the form and themes. In Part One the nature of debate is discussed and is found to be essentially a verbal contest for supremacy between two antagonistic speakers. The difficulty of finding sources for the debate form is also discussed in Part One. In Part Two a detailed examination of the contributory influences which formed the Bird Debate includes discussion of the beast fables, the role of birds in the locus amoenus, proverbial bird lore and analogues of the form in French and Latin. This leads on to a detailed critical examination of the Middle English bird debates in which the characteristic features of the genre are explored. Part Three embodies the results of similar research into the Devotional Debates with emphasis on sources, analogues and a critical examination of the poems as debates.