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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Inventions and Intentions of the Text: Gavin Douglas's Palice of Honour (1501) as Zenith of the Scottish Dream-Vision

13th March 2019, 17:30 to 19:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Dr Kylie Murray (University of Cambridge)

Join the final Inventions of the Text seminar of the term, as we go on a journey through dream literature.

About this Talk

Douglas's dream-vision poem, The Palice of Honour, divided into three parts and a prologue, continues to be read as an imitation of Chaucer’s House of Fame or Prologue to The Legend of Good Women. I propose a new reading, one which identifies Douglas's poem as a work that shows fresh invention and intention where literary history and tradition are concerned. Chaucer is not Douglas’s only, or even his dominant frame of reference. Come with me as I show you Gavin Douglas's journey through the history of all the world’s knowledge, and how he decides that’s still not enough. Douglas reaches above and beyond, to dazzling and dizzying effect, as we shall see.

We can read The Palice of Honour as self-consciously positioning itself the culmination and zenith of Scotland's pre-Reformation dream-vision tradition, by acknowledging what came before it, departing boldly from that and repeatedly challenging the reader’s horizon of expectation. This is made manifest in his response to three key preoccupations: first, the love-vision and amatory concerns; second, portraying a dreamer who genuinely and authentically learns to become a poet, worthy of holding high office in Scottish civic and political life; and last, but by no means least: proving that the tradition of mystical literature, previously deemed lost or missing from Scotland, was in fact flourishing, and reached a point of feverish intensity in this very poem.

After the Seminar

The seminar will be followed by drinks in The Victoria Inn and the option of dinner at Ristorante Capriccio. If you would like to join us for dinner, please contact us at

Contact for more information about this event.


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