Purdue University Graduate School
ECMBoyle_Dissertation.pdf (4.34 MB)

Ealuscerwen: Alcoholic Beverages and Their Relative Prominence in the Medieval English Corpus

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posted on 2024-04-28, 03:55 authored by Eugene Charles McGregor Boyle IIIEugene Charles McGregor Boyle III

It is generally known that alcoholic beverages held a significant place in medieval English culture, as they likewise do in modern society: the meadhall and the tavern are familiar locations in our conception of the medieval era. This study provides a corpus-driven approach to analyzing the societal meaning of alcohol in medieval England, both in terms of the general role of alcohol in the society of that time and place, and in terms of the distinction drawn between different types of alcoholic beverage. It examines the distribution of different terms for alcoholic drinks, as well as the meanings of those terms, the cultural significance of the various beverages, and how all of those elements change over time. This data is applied to case studies of three different texts: Piers Plowman, the Canterbury Tales, and Le Morte Darthur. From this, we are able to see not only the broader importance and interpretation of alcohol in medieval England, but also that the type of alcoholic beverage one drinks and the circumstances in which one drinks it are used to communicate information regarding one’s role in society and how one is perceived by medieval English culture at large.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Shaun Hughes

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Dorsey Armstrong

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Myrdene Anderson

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Kristin Leaman

Additional Committee Member 5

Dr. John Sundquist