The origin and role of sospiro in the poetry of Guido Cavalcanti

Jenkins, Rommany (2017). The origin and role of sospiro in the poetry of Guido Cavalcanti. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis focuses on the keyword sospiro (‘sigh’) in the poetry of Guido Cavalcanti. It reads this word in relation to the lyric poetry of Occitania and Italy, and medical literature related to lovesickness. It approaches Cavalcanti’s work in this way in order to avoid the distortion of a Dantean lens, as part of a trend since the anniverary of his death in 2000 towards considering Cavalcanti’s work on its own terms.

Inspired by Raymond Williams’ Keywords, this thesis looks beyond the familiar presence of sospiro in lyric poetry, revealing a word acting as a locus of innovative expression. It finds that while the sigh is generally regarded as a literary commonplace, it can in fact tell us much about the society and culture in which it is used. Sospiro is then traced in medical literature, charting its evolution as a symptom of the disease of lovesickness.

Against this backdrop, a reading of sospiro in Cavalcanti’s poetry is given which argues for the need to listen to both the lyric and medical contexts when interpreting the role of this word. As such, this thesis offers a consideration of these two contexts in parallel, through sospiro, for the first time.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Other
Other Funders: Il Circolo Italian Cultural Association
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures


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