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“We call this the stem stitch”: Embroidered Narrative in Philip Terry’s Tapestry
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, Portuguese. University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies.
2016 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Shortlisted for the first edition of the Goldsmith Prize, which aims to reward innovative works of fiction, Tapestry (2013) takes the Bayeux Tapestry as its starting point. While the framing narrative of the text appropriates the historical account of the Norman conquest and the creation of the tapestry by English nuns under the supervision of Bishop Odo, half-brother to William the Conqueror, the novel also explores the myriad of images found in the margins of the tapestry and transposes them into stories told by the nuns to each other in the process of stitching.

The Bayeux Tapestry (which technically is not a tapestry, but rather a work of embroidery, as the narrator makes sure to remind us) informs the very structure of the novel, not only as it mirrors the double depiction of both the historical events and the hidden stories in the marginalia, but also in the way a mixture of invented Middle English, Oulipian techniques and magic realism is able to convey the sense of colour and texture which characterise the famous tapestry.

Drawing on this, this paper will thus seek to provide a reading of Terry’s novel, focusing on how the text produces its own version of an embroidered narrative and on how that narrative ultimately paves the way for a reflection on our notions of art and history.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Specific Literatures
Research subject
Intercultural Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-22955OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-22955DiVA: diva2:956458
ESSE-13, National University of Ireland, Galway, August 22-26 2016
Available from: 2016-08-30 Created: 2016-08-30 Last updated: 2016-08-30Bibliographically approved

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