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Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain explores how sanctity and questions of literariness are intertwined across a range of medieval genres. “Sanctity” as a theme and concept figures as a prominent indicator of the developments in the period, in which authors began to challenge the predominant medieval dichotomy of either relying on the authority of previous authors when writing, or on experience. These developments are marked also by a rethinking of the intended and perceived effects of writings. Instead of looking for clues in religious practices in order to explain these changes, the literary practices themselves need to be scrutinised in detail, which provide evidence for a reinterpretation of both the writers’ and their topics’ traditional roles and purposes. The essays in the collection are based on a representative choice of texts from the fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries, covering penitential literature, hagiographical compilations and individual legends as well as romance, debates, and mystical literature from medieval and early modern England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. For researchers and advanced students of medieval literature and culture, the collection offers new insights into one of the central concepts of the late medieval period by considering sanctity first and foremost from the perspective of its literariness and literary potential.

Dan Geffrey with the New Poete

This is a much-needed volume that brings together established and early career scholars to provide new critical approaches to the relationship between Geoffrey Chaucer and Edmund Spenser. By reading one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages alongside one of the greatest poets of the English Renaissance, this collection poses questions about poetic authority, influence and the nature of intertextual relations in a more wide-ranging manner than ever before. With its dual focus on authors from periods often conceived as radically separate, the collection also responds to current interests in periodisation. This approach will engage academics, researchers and students of medieval and early modern culture.

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Faith, folly, and ‘The Faerie Queene’

Once a byword for Protestant sobriety and moral idealism, Spenser is now better known for his irony and elusiveness. Yet his sense of humour is still underestimated and misunderstood. Challenging the bias behind this neglect, this study shows that humour, far from being peripheral or superficial, goes to the heart of Spenser’s moral and doctrinal preoccupations. It explores rifts between The Faerie Queene’s ambitious and idealising postures and its Protestant vision of corruptible human nature. Figures to be comically ‘undone’ include the hero, the chivalric lover, the virgin, and the ideal monarch – as well as Spenser’s own epic-poet persona. Yet bathos has a positive significance in Christian theology, and Spenserian humour proves to be an expression of tolerance and faith as well as an instrument of satire. On this basis, Comic Spenser contends that the alliance of humour and allegory in The Faerie Queene affirms the value of the creative and ‘errant’ imagination.

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Medieval Britain, medieval roads
Editors: Valerie Allen and Ruth Evans

This collection of essays on roads in Britain in the Middle Ages addresses the topic from a cultural, anthropological and literary point of view, as well as a historical and archaeological one. Taking up Jacques Derrida's proposal that 'the history of writing and the history of the road' be 'meditated upon' together, it considers how roads ‘write’ landscapes. The anthology sets Britain’s thoroughfares against the backdrop of the extant Roman road system and argues for a technique of road construction and care that is distinctively medieval. As well as synthesizing information on medieval road terminology, roads as rights of passage and the road as an idea as much as a physical entity, individual essays look afresh at sources for the study of the medieval English road system, legal definitions of the highway, road-breaking and road-mending, wayfinding, the architecture of the street and its role in popular urban government, English hermits and the road as spiritual metaphor, royal itineraries, pilgrimage roads, roads in medieval English romances, English river transport, roads in medieval Wales, and roads in the Anglo-Scottish border zone.

Thomas A. Prendergast and Stephanie Trigg

social contrast between the medieval world and the rapidly changing industrialised West was experienced as particularly acute, when the scholarly study of medieval literature was also flourishing. Older forms of medievalism in the Gothic eighteenth century might have constructed fake medieval or gothic follies, 13 and Renaissance and Restoration collectors might have treasured real survivals from the medieval past, as we will

in Affective medievalism
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The narrator in the Scottish Legendary
Eva von Contzen

, the narrating voice and the narrative of the saints go hand in hand; narratorial interruptions serve the audience in that they guide the reception process, secure understanding through explanations, or anticipate audience response in their commentary. Indebted to patterns of oral storytelling, the narrator and his narratives form a collaborative unity in which the story level relies on the narratorial comments. This, in turn, may help to explain why metanarrative is so frequent in medieval literature, but seldom singled out as an especially noteworthy narrative

in The Scottish Legendary
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Calendar time in balade form
Catherine Sanok

by the poem’s contemporary readers. It coordinates the remote past of Ursula’s martyrdom and an open-ended present-future time in which the audience is addressed and taught how to say 11,000 Pater nosters in a calendar year. Bokenham’s stanza is not alone in suggesting that literary form operates as a structure that can accommodate or place into relation different kinds of time; we can identify it as an important capability of form across a broad swath of medieval literature. Secular love lyric, for example, uses its brevity to put in close relation quotidian

in Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain
Jo George

especially telling, as Boorman shares Jarman’s fascination with the Middle Ages and medieval literature. Indeed, with the exception of Excalibur , Boorman, like Jarman, has engaged with medieval sources in subtle, subtextual ways in films that are set in the present. For instance, Hoyle has noted that three of Boorman’s first four features contain strong parallels with the Arthurian legends. On the surface, Catch Us if You Can (1965) is a comic road movie featuring the Dave Clark Five, and Point Blank (1967) is a revenge thriller that marries the conventions of the

in British art cinema
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Deborah Youngs

still hold sway in the popular imagination, 10 researchers of the medieval period have sufficiently undermined the claims that the modern world invented or exclusively defined childhood and youth. As Chapter 2 will discuss, theories of ageing appear in a range of medieval literature, as does the concept of life stages. They demonstrate the tendency to group people together on the basis of age and to employ

in The life–cycle in Western Europe, c.1300-c.1500
Swooning in late medieval literature
Naomi Booth

death. Saints and romance lovers alike are laid low by a swooning that is the low point of a parabola of possible transformation. 2 In this chapter I focus on instances of the swoon in late medieval literature where it allows for the possibility of dramatic change at the very edge of life; swooning in the literature of this period is often a phenomenon at the extreme of existence, connoting a dangerous vulnerability to death. There is a rich vocabulary for swooning at this time, and many of its forms are intimately

in Swoon