Date of Award

2021

Document Type

M.A. Essay

Department

Comparative Literature Program

First Advisor

Nancy Canepa

Second Advisor

Monika Otter

Abstract

This essay places the reader at one of three sites of interpretation in Johannes de Alta Silva’s “Gaza,” located at the levels of 1) story, 2) frame narrative, and 3) reader. Identifying these levels as distinct spaces within which interpretation unfolds, I examine the level of the reader to demonstrate how the text explicitly shapes the reader’s role. Composed c. 1200 CE, “Gaza” is one of ten stories in Alta Silva’s Dolopathos, which forms a part of the larger medieval tradition known as The Seven Sages. Drawing upon concepts from narratology (Genette, Prince) and the phenomenology of reader response (Iser), I show how the text foregrounds the act of decoding by setting the story within a frame narrative that guides the reader’s process of interpretation. Through this focus on the reader’s relationship to a single story, I can offer insight into the peculiar didacticism of The Seven Sages.

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