Medieval Irish vision literature: a genre study

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Volmering, Nicole Johanna Bernartina
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University College Cork
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This dissertation examines medieval literary accounts of visions of the afterlife with an origin or provenance in Ireland from the perspective of genre, analysing their structural and literary characteristics both synchronically and diachronically. To this end, I have developed a new typology of medieval vision literature. I address the question in what manner the internationally attested genre of vision literature is adapted and developed in an Irish literary milieu. I explore this central research question through an interrogation of the typological unity of the key texts, both in formal arrangement and in the eschatological themes they express. My analysis of the structure and rhetoric of these narratives reveals the primary role of identity strategies, question-and-answer patterns and exhortation for their narrative cohesion and didactic function. In addition, I was able to make a formal distinction at text-level between the adaptation of the genre as an autonomous unit and the adaptation of thematic motifs as topoi. This further enabled me to nuance the distribution of characteristic features in the genre. My analysis of the spatial and temporal aspects of the eschatological journey confirms a preoccupation with personal eschatology. It reveals a close connection between the development of the aspects of graded access and trial in the genre and a growing awareness of an interim state of the soul after death. Finally, my dissertation provides new editions, translations and analyses of primary sources. My research breaks new ground in the hitherto underexplored area of genre adaptation in Ireland. In addition, it contributes significantly to our understanding of the nature of vision literature both in an Irish and a European context, and to our knowledge of the transmission of eschatological thought in the Latin West. Discusses the visions of: Laisrén, Fursa, Adomnán, Lóchán, Tnugdal, Owein and Visio Sancti Pauli Redactions VI and XI.
Laisrén , Vita Fursei , Fís Adomnáin , Visio Sancti Pauli , Second Vision of Adomnán , Lóchán , Visio Tnugdali , Tractatus de Purgatorio S. Patricii , Vision literature , Afterlife , Eschatology , Genre
Volmering, N. J. B. 2014. Medieval Irish vision literature: a genre study. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.