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The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building, idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts.

The Authorized Version and the Book of Common Prayer at the Restoration

more fateful one which took place at the Restoration, and which had a not dissimilar outcome. The Bible translation commissioned by King James VI and I was not universally acclaimed in its early years; but it was one aspect of religious life in England which remained largely unscathed by the upheavals of the Civil War and the Interregnum. More than that, by 1661 it had achieved such widespread acceptance across all religious factions that both Independents and the heirs of Laudian Anglo-​Catholicism demanded its official restoration. Having seen off its only real

in From Republic to Restoration
Women and the work of conversion in early modern England

This chapter opens by establishing women's centrality to the religious life of the household and community, and, in particular, their work as model converts and proselytisers. It argues that women’s devotion was neither inherently private nor inherently concerned with questions of selfhood or personal transformation. Drawing on the Queer Phenomenology of Sara Ahmed, the chapter suggests the extent to which conversion functions as a re-orientation and change in direction. The second half of the chapter takes women’s biblical needlework as a case study in material culture as an instrument of orientation. Considering a group of manuscript poems alongside the evidence of inventories and surviving stitchcraft, the authors argue for the evangelical and devotional effects of women’s decorative arts, and suggest that scriptural and religious themes were not simply emblematic but intended to work upon and transform the viewer. For early modern readers and viewers, the needle was a doubly efficacious tool, able to prick not only fabric but the consciences of those who wielded it or meditated upon its products.

in Conversions
Cookery texts as a source in lived religion

investigation of the religious life of the laity in the early modern era. My own interest in recipe books as sources for religious life was sparked one afternoon when, in a class on religious life in the American South that I was teaching at the University of Virginia, a guest lecturer on Irish-Americans in the South presented several artefacts from the life of an early and mid-twentieth-century IrishAmerican woman. One of the artefacts was a commercially published day-by-day calendar in which the owner had handwritten a series of recipes. The recipes appeared to be in no

in Reading and writing recipe books, 1550–1800

between O’Brien’s novel and Antonia White’s Frost in May (1933), a work that appears, at first glance, remarkably similar. Set retrospectively, as O’Brien’s novel is, in the decade before the First World War, White’s narrative also charts the progress of a precocious, bookish young girl at an upper-class English THE EROTIC S OF LIBERAL CATHOLIC DISSENT 83 boarding school run by a French order of nuns. White shares O’Brien’s intellectual admiration for the strenuous discipline of religious life and her sensuous delight in Catholic ritual – though White takes this to

in Impure thoughts
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create distinct confessional identities. Even in the Protestant church, conversion continued to be used in the (traditional) intra- faith sense to refer to an intensification of religious life as much or more than in the inter- faith sense of a change from one creed to another. The renewed evangelical vigour of the Counter-Reformation Catholic church, observed and vigorously emulated by Protestant

in Conversions
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beguines and groups of laywomen living a religious life.7 At least four communities of pucelles were located in Metz during the later Middle Ages; this meant that the figure of the pucelle – in the form of a spiritually inspired laywoman – formed part of the linguistic and cultural backdrop to Claude’s performances. By modelling her Pucelle character on Joan and reproducing her lay religious practice, Claude mirrored a local paradigm for pucelles. This likeness positioned the actor within an existing tradition and primed the audience to recognise certain elements of the

in Performing women

society:  royal grant monies were no longer available, forcing communities to repair and maintain roads and bridges on their own in order to sustain economic viability. Hermits provided both a practical and a theological solution. There is a parallel here that can be drawn between the traditional cura pastoralis (pastoral care) and the hermits’ care for the road. Emotional and spiritual support was an expected part of charitable Christian living, with greater obligations laid upon those who chose to live a vowed religious life. Priests, monks and even nuns were expected

in Roadworks
Open Access (free)
Representations of the house in the poetry of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Vona Groarke

concern has been evident and the built environment of her more recent poems is also culturally contextualised. Often the building may be a church or convent rather than a house. Throughout Ní Chuilleanáin’s work, religious institutions are seen to offer the security and support more usually associated with the family home and her sense of the religious community is one of female opportunity rather than limitation. ‘In Her Other Ireland’ sees the austerity of religious life bizarrely placed alongside (or within) the world of the seaside fairground, creating two opposing

in Irish literature since 1990
Le Bone Florence of Rome and bourgeois self-making

-till-marriage were conceptually differentiated, as Florence’s story shows. Much of the action consists of a concerted male alliance to put her virginity to the test, and although she spends time in a nunnery, at the end of the poem she is reunited in Rome with her husband, Emere. The reader knows that the religious life is not the goal of Florence’s story – it is not about a consecrated virgin but about the other, temporary, kind. The nunnery is a detour en route to the wedding feast with which the poem ends. So the story focuses on a particular phase in a woman’s life: her

in Pulp fictions of medieval England