Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors




This thesis examines two accepted styles of writing in the Middle Ages, the romance and religious genres, and what purpose they perform in the Gawain-poet’s religious poem, Patience, and his romance poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (SGGK). One recently popular line of research among medieval scholars is examining the way medieval authors, such as the Gawain-poet, combine elements of romance and spiritual writings. By funneling the Gawain-poet’s intermingling of the medieval romance and religious genres through the specific lens of sleep, which is represented differently in medieval romance texts than in medieval religious texts, it becomes possible to trace the spiritual and romance genres through each of his poems. The Gawain-poet uses sleep in conventional ways throughout each of his poems; yet by combining the conventions of sleep from both the romance and religious genres, sleep becomes one among several literary tools the Gawain-poet uses to convey a spiritual lesson. By examining the sleep scenes in Patience and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it becomes clear that the Gawain-poet uses elements of the romance genre as an allegory for the deeper spiritual meaning to be uncovered in each of his poems. Additional research into medieval perceptions on sleep, and how sleep in used in fourteenth-century romance and religious literature written by the Gawain-poet’s contemporaries, serves as further support for this argument.



Faculty Mentor

Christine Cooper Rompato

Departmental Honors Advisor

Christine Cooper Rompato

Capstone Committee Member

Phebe Jensen

Co-Faculty Mentor

Michael Sowder