Cultural capital : production and reproduction in Emaré



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Using the central romance narrative object in the Breton Lay Emaré, the anonymous poet creates a conversation highlighting the importance of class structure, religious difference, chivalric duty, the generic traditions of romance, imperial wealth, desire, and power within the narrative. The protagonist, Emaré, serves as the focus for a version of the traditional calumniated wife narrative, with few distinctions, the most intriguing of which is the focus on the particular textile that identifies her. This paper investigates how the textile and Emaré herself demonstrate the importance of production and reproduction—the fruits of both kinds of labor enabling her son to inherit two empires and their associated capitalist wealth, a social value that the likely middle class audience would have admired. This combined both the traditional dynastic focus of romance narratives with a capitalist, mercantile one, suggesting a move away from a chivalric, martial culture to one based around economic production.