By Peter Brown
A significant other to Medieval English Literature and tradition, c.1350-c.1500 demanding situations readers to imagine past a narrowly outlined canon and traditional disciplinary obstacles.
A ground-breaking choice of newly-commissioned essays on medieval literature and culture.
- Encourages scholars to imagine past a narrowly outlined canon and traditional disciplinary boundaries.
- Reflects the erosion of the conventional, inflexible boundary among medieval and early smooth literature.
- Stresses the significance of making contexts for examining literature.
- Explores the level to which medieval literature is in discussion with different cultural items, together with the literature of alternative nations, manuscripts and religion.
- Includes shut readings of frequently-studied texts, together with texts through Chaucer, Langland, the Gawain poet, and Hoccleve.
- Confronts a number of the controversies that workout scholars of medieval literature, resembling these hooked up with literary thought, love, and chivalry and war.
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Extra resources for A Companion To Medieval English Literature And Culture
Pearsall’s argument is that, notwithstanding Chaucer’s famous evocation of ‘Engelond’ in the opening of the Canterbury Tales, neither he nor his contemporaries nor his ﬁfteenth-century successors thought of England as a deﬁnable insular nation or of ‘Englishness’ as a distinguishing natural consciousness. To the contrary, Chaucer, John Gower, William Langland, the Gawain poet, Lydgate, Thomas Hoccleve, Malory, William Caxton, John Shirley and their aristocratic and royal patrons all ‘were ﬂuent in French and steeped in French culture’; and even as Henry V, the most strenuous advocate for the use of English, was writing in this language ‘to announce the victory at Agincourt’ to ‘the mayor and aldermen of London’, he was ‘writing in French to his brothers’ (in Cooney 2001: 22, 19).
When it comes to what we are supposed to read, we are clearly to favour texts representing forces of religious dissent or secular humour over texts representing spiritual practices we might view as too traditionally medieval. A more substantial rethinking of what we should read is offered in Derek Pearsall’s Chaucer to Spenser: An Anthology of Writings in English 1375–1575. The editor’s theoretical stance is articulated in two decisions. First, the volume’s scope, manifested in its title, restructures a student’s encounter with Chaucer by asserting a continuity between fourteenth- and sixteenth-century English literature.
In the minds of men of that age, the relations of deference and service that persisted between the grades (of society) were the basis of social order, of its essence: they had not yet come to regard social distinctions as divisive, as forces with the potential to tear society apart’ (Keen 1990: 1; see also Bennett 1983: 67). This emphasis on the need to see societies in terms of how contemporaries themselves perceived them, and the consequent belief that pre-industrial societies, including that of late medieval England, were neatly ordered and harmonious status-hierarchies is now an orthodoxy in many quarters of social history and of sociology.