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Ethics, emotions, dreams
Author: Megan G. Leitch

Middle English literature registers intimate concerns with sleep and the spaces in which it takes place. These concerns about sleep, and the intersecting medical and moral discourses with which they engage, have been overlooked by studies more concerned with what sleep sometimes enables (dreams and dream poetry), or with what sleep sometimes stands in for or supersedes (sex). In the medieval English imagination, sleep is an embodied and culturally determined act, both performed and interpreted by characters and contemporaries; both subject to a particular habitus, and understood through particular, and pervasive, hermeneutic lenses. This book argues that sleep mediates thematic concerns and questions in ways that carry specific ethical, affective and oneiric implications in the medieval English cultural imagination, and that also offer defining contributions to different Middle English genres: romance, dream vision, drama and fabliau. Concentrating particularly on the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, this book also attends to a longue durée in the literature and ideas about sleep circulating from the twelfth century to the early seventeenth. It focuses on continuities in the construction of sleep across this span – scientific, social, spiritual and spatial continuities – and explores the cultural specificity of premodern English literature’s widespread interest in sleep. Analysing the ways in which representations of sleep in a range of genres animate ethical codes and emotive scripts, this book’s contributions include establishing the significance of sleep-related motifs to Middle English romance, and offering a more embodied understanding of dream visions by Chaucer, Langland and the Pearl-poet.

Author: Laura Varnam

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.

John McLeod

Interrogating the text Writing about her experience of the study of English literature in India, Meenakshi Mukherjee has defended postcolonialism as an emancipatory concept on the grounds that ‘it makes us interrogate many aspects of the study of literature that we were made to take for granted, enabling us … to re-interpret some of the old canonical texts from Europe from the perspective of our specific historical and geographical location’ ( Interrogating Postcolonialism: Theory, Text and Context , eds Harish Trivedi and Meenakshi Mukherjee, Indian

in Beginning postcolonialism (second edition)
Shayne Aaron Legassie

9 The pilgrimage road in late medieval English literature Shayne Aaron Legassie Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a pilgrimage road. Economic historians concede that the practice of pilgrimage exerted tangible effects on the development of cathedrals, monasteries and towns, but they quickly add that there is no conclusive evidence that pilgrimage was the primary impetus behind the construction or maintenance of any medieval English roads.1 As is the case with most of the important pilgrimage destinations of medieval Christian Europe, English shrines

in Roadworks
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Open Access (free)
Writing about Personal Experiences of Humanitarianism
Róisín Read, Tony Redmond, and Gareth Owen

recollections and I had no intention of sharing any of it – except perhaps with family members if ever they became curious. I suppose I was also seeking to discover if I could actually write in any way competently – something I’d always cherished as an ambition. My maternal grandfather was Professor of English Literature at Bangor University, and another relative of that generation wrote children’s books that we read when very young and which I proudly remember seeing in my school library. I selfishly wanted to know if I had inherited any of their talent. The initial format

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
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Narrative and death in ‘Youth’, Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim and Chance
Author: Paul Wake

This book provides a rigorous investigation of one of the more intriguing characters in English literature, looking at how the character is constructed and is then read against the main literary theorists. It illustrates how ‘Marlow’ is inextricably bound up in both the storytelling and the emergence of meaning. Joseph Conrad is still seen as one of the first Modernists and one of the finest twentieth-century novelists, and his ‘Marlow’ incorporates all of the most popular novels.

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Scatology and its representations in English literature, Chaucer to Swift
Author: Peter J. Smith

This book investigates the representation of scatology (humorous, carnivalesque, satirical, damning and otherwise) in English literature from the middle ages to the eighteenth century. The 'two stools' stand for two broadly distinctive attitudes towards scatology. The first is a carnivalesque, merry, even hearty disposition, typified by the writings of Chaucer and Shakespeare. The second is self-disgust, an attitude characterised by withering misanthropy and hypochondria. The book demonstrates how the combination of high and low cultures manifests the capacity to run canonical and carnivalesque together. This makes sanctioned and civilised artefacts and scatological humour frequently co-exist in the works under discussion, evidence of an earlier culture's aptitude (now lost) to occupy a position between two stools. The book considers the history of bowdlerisation of Chaucer's fabliaux and reflects upon the current state of scatological commentary. 'Innocent scatology', characteristic of English literature of the mid-1650s, is contrasted with the caustic and malevolent obscenity in that composed following the Restoration. Just as in The Miller's Tale, the fart, in 'the bum-centred comedy' of The Summoner's Tale, is a long time coming. Cavalier scatology is infused with a political specificity which is less pronounced in that of the earlier period. The common characteristic of most examples of Shakespearean onomastic bawdy is their localised essence. The relationship between anality and sexuality, central to the work of Rochester and of essential importance to Freudian theory, is explored in one of Jonathan Swift's comically excremental poems, 'Strephon and Chloe'.

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The unattractive body in early modern culture
Author: Naomi Baker

This book investigates representations of the unattractive human body in early modern English culture, examining in particular the role played by depictions of the unsightly body in the construction of specific models of identity. It provides a set of texts that can deepen their understanding of the culture and society of the twelfth-century German kingdom. The sources translated bring to life the activities of five noblemen and noblewomen. The book focuses on the ugly characters found in English literature and drama, and also refers to wider European texts and discourses, including Italian and other European visual art. It explores whether ugliness is an objective property or a subjective perception. Ugly men are often represented as Silenus figures, their unappealing exteriors belying their inner nobility. Carrier of diseases and transgressor of sexual, social and physical norms, the ugly woman horrifies and nauseates, provoking a violent response. The manner in which these women are 'defeatured' aligns their acquired ugliness with the erasure of identity rather than its consolidation. The usefulness of the ugly woman as a means of consolidating specific forms of masculine identity is particularly visible in some texts written in praise of unattractive mistresses. Works 'celebrating' ugly women ultimately draw attention to the male creative genius that is capable of transforming even unsightly female matter into compelling art. Eluding simple categorisations and dismantling the most fundamental of social and subjective binaries, ugly figures burst repeatedly on to the scene in early modern texts, often in the most unexpected of places.