particular type of literature, the
MiddleEnglish romances, texts which became witnesses of a ‘new
“bourgeois-gentry” cultural formation’. 2
Literature, here defined in an all-inclusive way, rather
than material for entertainment purposes, is traditionally assessed in
relation to authorship, authorial intention, audience and
socio-political context, and thus an investigation into the influence of
book that was used in rituals. Two such textus were employed by Hubert de Burgh (d. 1243), and link Masses with oath-rituals, leading us into the realm of courts of law and oath-books. Court records, canon and common law treatises, and MiddleEnglish literary narratives all portray the elusive nature of oath-books, which were used in complex rituals. A few surviving manuscripts, and the oaths of medieval Jews, assist in defining the nature of these books, which followed appearance and antiquity. After exploring each of these issues, the conclusion of this chapter
MiddleEnglish poetry is
anything but the ideal way of preparing him to understand something old
and difficult and complicated; for in his eagerness to find what
must be there he will very likely miss what is
there.’ For instance, far from the story of the fall being the
centre of the ‘Nun’s Priest’s tale’, Coghill and
Tolkien argued that it was only ‘jestingly invoked’ by means
This book on Geoffrey Chaucer explores the relationship between Chaucer's poetry and the change and conflict characteristic of his day and the sorts of literary and non-literary conventions that were at his disposal for making sense of the society around him. Critics who consider the social meaning of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales fall into two main schools: those who present his social thought as an expression of the dominant spirit or ideology of his day and those who see Chaucer as possessing a more heterodox voice. Many of the present generation of Chaucer critics have been trained either as 'Robertsonians' or as 'Donaldsonians'. For D. W. Robertson, even those medieval poems which do not explicitly address religious issues were frequently intended to promote the Augustinian doctrine of charity beneath a pleasing surface; for E. Talbot Donaldson, there are 'no such poems in Middle English'. The book sets out the basics of the Augustinian doctrine of charity and of medieval allegorical theory and examines 'patristic' interpretations of Chaucer's work, particularly of the 'Nun's Priest Tale'. It looks at the humanist alternative to the patristic method and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the patristic approach. The book also outlines some of the major medieval discourses about sexual difference which inform Chaucer's depiction of women, in particular, the tendency of medieval writers to polarise their views of women, condemning them to the pit or elevating them to the pedestal.
This collection explores how concepts of intellectual or learning disability evolved from a range of influences, gradually developing from earlier and decidedly distinct concepts, including ‘idiocy’ and ‘folly’, which were themselves generated by very specific social and intellectual environments. With essays extending across legal, educational, literary, religious, philosophical, and psychiatric histories, this collection maintains a rigorous distinction between historical and contemporary concepts in demonstrating how intellectual disability and related notions were products of the prevailing social, cultural, and intellectual environments in which they took form, and themselves performed important functions within these environments. Focusing on British and European material from the middle ages to the late nineteenth century, this collection asks ‘How and why did these concepts form?’ ‘How did they connect with one another?’ and ‘What historical circumstances contributed to building these connections?’ While the emphasis is on conceptual history or a history of ideas, these essays also address the consequences of these defining forces for the people who found themselves enclosed by the shifting definitional field.
fourteenth century, MiddleEnglish usage. 28 In formal terms, an alien was understood as someone who owed no direct allegiance to the sovereign power, the king, and was thus separated off from his direct subjects. It is important to note, however, that ‘alien’ was just as applicable to visitors as it was to permanent settlers: in general, the law of alienage that emerged from the thirteenth century made no formal distinction between such sub-categories. 29 Consequently, while all immigrants were aliens, not all aliens were immigrants.