This book presents an exciting new approach to the medieval church by examining the role of literary texts, visual decorations, ritual performance and lived experience in the production of sanctity. The meaning of the church was intensely debated in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This book explores what was at stake not only for the church’s sanctity but for the identity of the parish community as a result. Focusing on pastoral material used to teach the laity, it shows how the church’s status as a sacred space at the heart of the congregation was dangerously – but profitably – dependent on lay practice. The sacred and profane were inextricably linked and, paradoxically, the church is shown to thrive on the sacrilegious challenge of lay misbehaviour and sin.
Old St Paul’s and Culture is an interdisciplinary collection of essays that looks predominantly at the culture of Old St Paul’s and its wider precinct in the early modern period, while also providing important insights into the Cathedral’s medieval institution. The chapters examine the symbolic role of the site in England’s Christian history, the London book trade based in and around St Paul’s, the place of St Paul’s commercial indoor playhouse within the performance culture of sixteenth and seventeenth-century London, and the intersection of religion and politics through events such as civic ceremonies and occasional sermons. Through the organising theme of culture, the authors demonstrate how the site, as well as the people and trades occupying the precinct, can be positioned within wider fields of representations, practices, and social networks. A focus on St Paul’s is therefore about more than just the specific site on Ludgate Hill: it is about those practices and representations connected to it, which either extended beyond or originated in places other than the Cathedral environs. This points to the range of localised, regional, national, and transnational relationships in which the precinct and its people were situated and to which they contributed.
The politics of Middle English parables examines the dynamic intersection of fiction, theology and social practice in late-medieval England. Parables occupy a prominent place in Middle English literature, appearing in dream visions and story collections as well as in lives of Christ and devotional treatises. While most scholarship approaches the translated stories as stable vehicles of Christian teaching, this book highlights the many variations and points of conflict across Middle English renditions of the same story. In parables related to labour, social inequality, charity and penance, the book locates a creative theological discourse through which writers attempted to re-construct Christian belief and practice. Analysis of these diverse retellings reveals not what a given parable meant in a definitive sense but rather how Middle English parables inscribe the ideologies, power structures and cultural debates of late-medieval Christianity.
Scribes of Space posits that the conception of space—the everyday physical areas we perceive and through which we move—underwent critical transformations between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. Matthew Boyd Goldie examines how natural philosophers, theologians, poets, and other thinkers in late medieval Britain altered the ideas about geographical space they inherited from the ancient world. In tracing the causes and nature of these developments, and how geographical space was consequently understood, Goldie focuses on the intersection of medieval science, theology, and literature, deftly bringing a wide range of writings—scientific works by Nicole Oresme, Jean Buridan, the Merton School of Oxford Calculators, and Thomas Bradwardine; spiritual, poetic, and travel writings by John Lydgate, Robert Henryson, Margery Kempe, the Mandeville author, and Geoffrey Chaucer—into conversation. This pairing of physics and literature uncovers how the understanding of spatial boundaries, locality, elevation, motion, and proximity shifted across time, signaling the emergence of a new spatial imagination during this era.
This study examines Exeter riddles, Anglo-Saxon biblical poems (Exodus, Andreas, Judith) and Beowulf in order to uncover the poetics of spolia, an imaginative use of recycled fictional artefacts to create sites of metatextual reflection. Old English poetry famously lacks an explicit ars poetica. This book argues that attention to particularly charged moments within texts – especially those concerned with translation, transformation and the layering of various pasts – yields a previously unrecognised means for theorising Anglo-Saxon poetic creativity. Borrowed objects and the art of poetry works at the intersections of materiality and poetics, balancing insights from thing theory and related approaches with close readings of passages from Old English texts.
Practicing shame investigates how the literature of medieval England encouraged women to safeguard their honour by cultivating hypervigilance against the possibility of sexual shame. A combination of inward reflection and outward comportment, this practice of ‘shamefastness’ was believed to reinforce women’s chastity of mind and body, and to communicate that chastity to others by means of conventional gestures. The book uncovers the paradoxes and complications that emerged from these emotional practices, as well as the ways in which they were satirised and reappropriated by male authors. Working at the intersection of literary studies, gender studies and the history of emotions, it transforms our understanding of the ethical construction of femininity in the past and provides a new framework for thinking about honourable womanhood now and in the years to come.
This book represents the first full-length study of the prevalence of domestic imagery in late medieval religious literature. It examines as yet understudied patterns of household imagery and allegory across four fifteenth-century spiritual texts, all of which are Middle English translations of earlier Latin works. These texts are drawn from a range of popular genres of medieval religious writing, including the spiritual guidance text, Life of Christ, and collection of revelations received by visionary women. All of the texts discussed in this book have identifiable late medieval readers, which further enables a discussion of the way in which these book users might have responded to the domestic images in each one. This is a hugely important area of enquiry, as the literal late medieval household was becoming increasingly culturally important during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and these texts’ frequent recourse to domestic imagery would have been especially pertinent.
This collection investigates how the late-medieval household acted as a sorter, user and disseminator of different kinds of ready information, from the traditional and authoritative to the innovative and newly made. Building on work on the noble and bourgeois medieval household, it considers bourgeois, gentry and collegiate households on both sides of the English Channel. The book argues that there is a dynamic and reciprocal relationship between domestic experience and its forms of cultural expression. Contributors address a range of cultural productions, including conduct texts, romances and comic writing, estates-management literature, medical writing, household music and drama and manuscript anthologies. Their studies provide a fresh illustration of the late-medieval household's imaginative scope, its extensive internal and external connections and its fundamental centrality to late-medieval cultural production.
This unique and exciting collection, inspired by the scholarship of literary critic Stephanie Trigg, offers cutting-edge responses to the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer for the current critical moment. The chapters are linked by the organic and naturally occurring affinities that emerge from Trigg's ongoing legacy; containing diverse methodological approaches and themes, they engage with Chaucer through ecocriticism, medieval literary and historical criticism, and medievalism. The contributors, trailblazing international specialists in their respective fields, honour Trigg's distinctive and energetic mode of enquiry (the symptomatic long history) and intellectual contribution to the humanities. At the same time, their approaches exemplify shifting trends in Chaucer scholarship. Like Chaucer's pilgrims, these scholars speak to and alongside each other, but their essays are also attentive to 'hearing Chaucer speak' then, now and in the future.
Visions and ruins explores the production of cultural memory in the Middle Ages and the uses the medieval past has been put to in modernity. Working with texts in Old English, Middle English and Latin, as well as visual and material culture, it traces connections in time, place, language and media to explore the temporal complexities of cultural production and subject formation. The book interrogates critical, poetic, artistic and political archives to reveal exchanges of cultural energy and influence between past and present, offering new ways of knowing the medieval past and the contemporary moment.
This electronic version has been made available under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) open access license. This book traces affinities between digital and medieval media, exploring how reading functioned as a nexus for concerns about increasing literacy, audiences’ agency, literary culture and media formats from the late fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries. Drawing on a wide range of texts, from well-known poems of Chaucer and Lydgate to wall texts, banqueting poems and devotional works written by and for women, Participatory reading argues that making readers work offered writers ways to shape their reputations and the futures of their productions. At the same time, the interactive reading practices they promoted enabled audiences to contribute to – and contest – writers’ burgeoning authority, making books and reading work for everyone.