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The affect of fosterage in medieval Ireland

O'Donnell, Thomas Charles; (2017) The affect of fosterage in medieval Ireland. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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In this thesis I will reconstruct the emotional community created by fosterage: mark out its boundaries; describe its construction; and show how the deep love expressed by poets and characters in the saga literature for their foster-family under-pinned medieval Irish society. As I recreate the emotional community of fosterage, we see that fosterage bonds are created outside the legal framework, through providing nutrition, education, and sharing experience. In order to fully understand medieval Irish fosterage, we need to understand fosterage for love as well as for a fee. The emotional community of fosterage is recreated via a number of case studies, based on relationships within the foster family. The first chapter examines the foster father/fosterling relationship through the figure of Cú Chulainn and questions the received picture of multiple fosterage. The foster-mother relationship is the focus of the second chapter, in their role of mourning dead fosterlings and acting as guardian of memory. The third chapter asks the question who is a foster-sibling and examines the boundaries of the fosterage terminology. The language is particularly fluid in the fíanaigecht literature. The final chapters examine fosterage outside the foster family. Fosterage was employed as a metaphor in religious writings and chapter four analyses this metaphor to understand both the experience of the divine and the position of children in monasteries. Chapter five turns to fosterage between humans and animals, extended the metaphoric use of fosterage seen in earlier chapters. Looking at fosterage in this unusual setting makes the assumptions about the emotional ties it creates easier to address. Fosterage bonds were created by nurturing, educating and sharing experience and lasted throughout the participants lives. In order to appreciate the impact fosterage had on medieval Irish society we must appreciate the affective bonds it created and the affective way it was created.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The affect of fosterage in medieval Ireland
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1570586
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