Search results

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.

Abstract only
Reading sacred space in late medieval England
Laura Varnam

The introduction establishes the methodology for reading sacred space in Middle English literature through an examination of the fifteenth-century text ‘The Canterbury Interlude’, in which Chaucer’s pilgrims arrive at Canterbury Cathedral, visit the shrine of Thomas Becket and argue over their interpretation of the stained glass. The chapter explores the relationship between texts, buildings, visual art, and lay practice in the production of sanctity and sets up the theoretical framework for discussing the church as sacred space. The chapter argues that sacred space is performative and must be made manifest, with reference to Mircea Eliade’s concept of the hierophany, and suggests that sacred space is a powerful tool in the negotiation of social relationships. Finally, the chapter discusses sanctity as a form of symbolic capital in an increasingly competitive devotional environment.

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Consecration, restoration, and translation
Laura Varnam

Middle English translation of The Book of the Foundation directly follows a transcription of the original Latin foundation legend in the British Library, MS Cotton Vespasian B IX, dated c. 1400.2 St Bartholomew the Great was founded in Smithfield, just outside the walls of the city of London, in 1123 by Rahere, 62 The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture who received his instructions from St Bartholomew in a vision and become the first prior, and the Latin foundation legend was composed some fifty years after the building process began. St

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Placing the people at the heart of sacred space
Laura Varnam

church in the fifteenth century. It was the building that, as Henri Lefebvre argues, offered ‘each member of society an image of that membership, an image of his or her social visage’, and parishioners could increasingly contribute 180 The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture to that image, donating decorations such as stained glass windows, and funding much-needed restoration and rebuilding work.3 The materiality of the church could not be ignored. Indeed, it was subject to serious scrutiny from a wide range of writers who debated the

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Abstract only
Pastoral care in the parish church
Laura Varnam

kepe. (19–26) 124 The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture When she is in church, the daughter must prioritise prayer over ‘jangelynge’, the sin of gossip and idle speech that is a constant concern in pastoral care material. The Good Wife instructs her daughter to ‘take kepe’ of her advice because ‘worschype’ begins with ‘gode berynge’, but it is not merely the worship of the individual that is at stake here. It is the worship of the church itself. The pastoral care material that I will examine here arose in the wake of the Fourth

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Laura Varnam

understanding a community’s subsequent sacred practice.5 The themes, images, and methods of construction delineated here will, therefore, be a touchstone throughout this book. 34 The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture The meaning and purpose of the consecration ceremony In his sermon for the dedication of a church, Jacobus de Voragine declares that there are five purposes behind the consecration ceremony: The first is to drive out the devil and his power […] Secondly, the church is consecrated in order that those who take refuge in it in may be

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Abstract only
Laura Varnam

The epilogue discusses the depiction of the church as a sacred space in the Middle English carol By a chapel as I came. The chapel has a multisensory, dynamic sanctity, and is presented as the house of God and all his saints. The epilogue concludes by showing how this mode of sanctity can still be experienced in the modern world by describing a visit to the church of St Botolph’s, Slapton, to examine the wall paintings and by discussing modern material replicas of church architecture, including the Lego Durham cathedral and the ‘Woolly Spires’ knitted churches project.

in The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture
Essays for Stephanie Trigg

For 700 years, Geoffrey Chaucer has spoken to scholars and amateurs alike. How does his work speak to us in the twenty-first century? This volume provides a unique vantage point for responding to this question, furnished by the pioneering scholar of medieval literary studies, Stephanie Trigg: the symptomatic long history. While Trigg's signature methodological framework acts as a springboard for the vibrant conversation that characterises this collection, each chapter offers an inspiring extension of her scholarly insights. The varied perspectives of the outstanding contributors attest to the vibrancy and the advancement of debates in Chaucer studies: thus, formerly rigid demarcations surrounding medieval literary studies, particularly those concerned with Chaucer, yield in these essays to a fluid interplay between Chaucer within his medieval context; medievalism and ‘reception’; the rigours of scholarly research and the recognition of amateur engagement with the past; the significance of the history of emotions; and the relationship of textuality with subjectivity according to their social and ecological context. Each chapter produces a distinctive and often startling interpretation of Chaucer that broadens our understanding of the dynamic relationship between the medieval past and its ongoing re-evaluation. The inventive strategies and methodologies employed in this volume by leading thinkers in medieval literary criticism will stimulate exciting and timely insights for researchers and students of Chaucer, medievalism, medieval studies, and the history of emotions, especially those interested in the relationship between medieval literature, the intervening centuries and contemporary cultural change.

Abstract only
Cultural memory and the untimely Middle Ages
Author: Joshua Davies

This book is a study of cultural memory in and of the British Middle Ages. It works with material drawn from across the medieval period – in Old English, Middle English and Latin, as well as material and visual culture – and explores modern translations, reworkings and appropriations of these texts to examine how images of the past have been created, adapted and shared. It interrogates how cultural memory formed, and was formed by, social identities in the Middle Ages and how ideas about the past intersected with ideas about the present and future. It also examines how the presence of the Middle Ages has been felt, understood and perpetuated in modernity and the cultural possibilities and transformations this has generated. The Middle Ages encountered in this book is a site of cultural potential, a means of imagining the future as well as imaging the past.

The scope of this book is defined by the duration of cultural forms rather than traditional habits of historical periodization and it seeks to reveal connections across time, place and media to explore the temporal complexities of cultural production and subject formation. It reveals a transtemporal and transnational archive of the modern Middle Ages.

Author: Daniel Birkholz

This study brings emergent methodologies of literary geography to bear upon the unique contents—or more to the point, the moving, artful, frequently audacious contents—of a codex known as London, British Library MS Harley 2253. The Harley manuscript was produced in provincial Herefordshire, in England’s Welsh Marches, by a scribe whose literary generation was wiped out in the Black Death of 1348–1351. It contains a diverse set of writings: love-lyrics and devotional texts, political songs and fabliaux, saints’ lives, courtesy literature, bible narratives, travelogues, and more. These works alternate between languages (Middle English, Anglo-Norman, and Latin), but have been placed in mutually illuminating conversation. Following an Introduction that explores how this fragmentary miscellany keeps being sutured into ‘whole’-ness by commentary upon it, individual chapters examine different genres, topics, and social groupings. Readers from literary history, medieval studies, cultural geography, gender studies, Jewish studies, book history, and more, will profit from the encounter.

Harley 2253 is famous as medieval books go, thanks to its celebrated roster of lyrics, fabliaux, and political songs, and owing to the scarcity of material extant from this ‘in-between’ period in insular literary history. England’s post-Conquest/pre-plague era remains dimly known. Despite such potential, there has never been a monograph published on Harley 2253. Harley Manuscript Geographies orients readers to this compelling material by describing the phenomenon of the medieval miscellany in textual and codicological terms. But another task it performs is to lay out grounds for approaching this compilation via the interpretive lens that cultural geography provides.