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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.

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Elizabeth Isham’s reading
Isaac Stephens

devotional literature. In her study of George Herbert’s The Temple, Helen Wilcox has stressed that women readers were not passive recipients of the text, but actively copied or altered parts of it into commonplace books, quoted from it in letters to illustrate their own experience, and followed its style and rhetoric in their own devotional poetry. Through such activities, Herbert’s ‘poetic devotion was both sympathetic and empowering’ for women. There is plenty of other evidence to illustrate female agency derived from conformity to early modern ideals for what was proper

in The gentlewoman’s remembrance
R. N. Swanson

Within Christianity, the principal focus of devotion was necessarily the divinity, in particular Christ, the second person of the Trinity. A striking feature of late medieval England is the Christ- and crucifix-centred nature of the spirituality, expressed in small-scale daily devotions, in visionary and devotional

in Catholic England
The spiritual autobiography of Elizabeth Isham
Isaac Stephens

’ and the meanings it had for Elizabeth. By exploring the making of the autobiography, a foundation will emerge for the layers that we will build upon in understanding her life and world in subsequent chapters. To know Elizabeth Isham is to know the ‘Booke of Rememberance’ and the motivations of its production. After all, it is the richest source for accessing the historical memory of her life and her world. 21 The gentlewoman’s remembrance Heavily influenced by devotional literature – particularly Augustine’s Confessions – Elizabeth’s ‘Booke of Rememberance’ rested

in The gentlewoman’s remembrance
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Deborah Youngs

customs in the rest of Britain. 9 Its rich cultural production ranged from a remarkable collection of illuminated psalters of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries to the flowering of religious architecture and art, devotional literature, and drama in the fifteenth century. The gentry appear to have played some role in the cultural development of the region. To Samuel Moore it was

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England
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Finding and remembering Elizabeth Isham
Isaac Stephens

largely on devotional literature and Scripture – played a crucial role in the cultivation of such piety and greatly influenced Elizabeth’s life-writing.7 It was a piety and writing that she desired to share with her brother Justinian’s first four daughters, for she bequeathed her ‘Booke of Rememberance’ to them to read. Moreover, Elizabeth wished to leave a memorial testament of her mother, Lady Isham, and sister, Judith, in the autobiography, and in doing so produced the richest source on the lives of her two closest female relations. Such a testament grew out of the

in The gentlewoman’s remembrance
Open Access (free)
Susan M. Johns

pursuing their own strategies. In the context of the twelfth-century evidence, the following discussion of women’s participation in spiritual relationships with churchmen argues that this was an important route for male–female interaction, and that this stimulated the production of T 30 patronage and power devotional literature written for specific women. Thus such relationships between churchmen and noblewomen were a route for indirect female influence in the context of the production of specific texts. The role of twelfth-century secular noblewomen in procuring

in Noblewomen, aristocracy and power in the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman realm
Elisabeth Salter

discussed in Chapter 1, rather than thinking that people could either read or they could not – in other words that they were either literate or illiterate – it is more appropriate to also consider individuals’ involvement in occasions that included literate activities. Perhaps particularly with devotional literature, and more particularly again with service books, participating in events which involve literate activity can be seen as a significant aspect of being literate.101 The individual may be reading from his or her own book in a church service; he or she may be

in Popular reading in English c. 1400–1600
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Self-fashioning and sanctity in late medieval English mystical literature
Jessica Barr

, when ‘we are able to see the development of the role of the individual, and the practice of imaginatio, in vernacular religious literature, particularly in the construction of the reader as the “I” figure in the text, the meditator’. Readers of affective devotional literature are thus to ‘recover’ the experience of Jesus’ death ‘through an imaginatively dramatic engagement with the Passion narrative itself’ accomplished by inhabiting the persona of the ‘I’ in meditation poems.18 The reader’s identification with the ‘I’ of the text allows the meditation on Christ

in Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain
Raluca Radulescu

place on a national scale. In particular this manuscript will be related to the increased appeal of the vernacular penitential lyric and the political discourse of penitence in the latter part of the fifteenth century. In what follows, I  develop a model of textual transmission and reception that sheds new light on the correlations between transformations 202 202 Raluca Radulescu in the political discourse of kingship and the devotional literature of repentance, as well as on the geographical scope of these phenomena. I  thus suggest that the ‘microcosm’ of this

in Household knowledges in late-medieval England and France