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date: 07 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

One of the stanzas in “To Rosemounde,” a poem tentatively ascribed to Geoffrey Chaucer, mentions a pike steeped in galantine sauce that creates a moment of confusion. The fish in question might be described as a moment of ungenre, of disorientation within a text. The problematic nature of attempting taxonomies of medieval genres has been pointed out in medieval texts. This article examines generic terms in Middle English literature, what they meant, and whether they were regulated by a system. To address these issues, the use of three generic markers, each representative of a different strand of influence in literature written in Middle English, is considered: romaunce, balade, and tragedye. The article also discusses the tendency of the names of writing to appear in combination with other generic markers, rather than in isolation, as well as the implications of that tendency toward combination or mixing.

Keywords: To Rosemounde, Geoffrey Chaucer, ungenre, generic terms, Middle English literature, generic markers, romaunce, balade, tragedye, mixing

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