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Valerie Allen is Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNYRuth Evans is Professor of English at Saint Louis University

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719085062

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719085062.001.0001

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The romance of the road in Athelston and two late medieval Robin Hood ballads

The romance of the road in Athelston and two late medieval Robin Hood ballads

(p.220) 10 The romance of the road in Athelston and two late medieval Robin Hood ballads

Christine Chism

Manchester University Press

This chapter argues that roads function as the material signifiers of deeply politicized relational networks in three Middle English romances: Athelston, the Gest of Robin Hood and Robin Hood and the Monk. Where Athelston uses roadrunning between jurisdictions to generate more inclusive conceptions of England as nation, the Robin Hood ballads manipulate roads effectively to highjack connective modes of normative nation-building and experiment briefly with much more fluid modes of nation as improvisation. Drawing on historical geographies of the southern and northern branches of the great Roman road known as Watling Street, ultimately, all three of these romances politicize road-running by asking whose roads are being travelled – are they common to all, networks between regions, extensions of civil sanctuary, or are they the king’s to protect and sequester?

Keywords:   romance, nation, Watling Street, Robin Hood, Athelston

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