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Fiction, theology, and social practice
Author: Mary Raschko

The politics of Middle English parables examines the dynamic intersection of fiction, theology, and social practice in translated Gospel stories. Parables occupy a prominent place in Middle English literature, appearing in dream visions and story collections as well as in lives of Christ and devotional treatises. While most scholarship approaches these scriptural stories as stable vehicles of Christian teachings, this book characterises Gospel parables as ambiguous, riddling stories that invited audience interpretation and inspired the construction of new, culturally inflected narratives. In parables related to labour, social inequality, charity, and penance, the book locates a creative theological discourse through which writers reconstructed scriptural stories and, in doing so, attempted to shape Christian belief and practice. Analysis of these diverse retellings reveals not what a given parable meant in a definitive sense but rather how Middle English parables inscribe the ideologies, power structures, and cultural debates of late medieval Christianity.

Affective piety in the eleventh-century monastery of John of Fécamp
Series: Artes Liberales
Author: Lauren Mancia

Scholars of the Middle Ages have long taught that highly emotional Christian devotion, often called ‘affective piety’, originated in Europe after the twelfth century, and was primarily practised by late medieval communities of mendicants, lay people, and women. As the first study of affective piety in an eleventh-century monastic context, this book revises our understanding of affective spirituality’s origins, characteristics, and uses in medieval Christianity.

Emotional monasticism: Affective piety at the eleventh-century monastery of John of Fécamp traces the early monastic history of affective devotion through the life and works of the earliest-known writer of emotional prayers, John of Fécamp, abbot of the Norman monastery of Fécamp from 1028 to 1078. The book examines John’s major work, the Confessio theologica; John’s early influences and educational background in Ravenna and Dijon; the emotion-filled devotional programme of Fécamp’s liturgical, manuscript, and intellectual culture, and its relation to the monastery’s efforts at reform; the cultivation of affective principles in the monastery’s work beyond the monastery’s walls; and John’s later medieval legacy at Fécamp, throughout Normandy, and beyond. Emotional monasticism will appeal to scholars of monasticism, of the history of emotion, and of medieval Christianity. The book exposes the early medieval monastic roots of later medieval affective piety, re-examines the importance of John of Fécamp’s prayers for the first time since his work was discovered, casts a new light on the devotional life of monks in medieval Europe before the twelfth century, and redefines how we should understand the history of Christianity.

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Lauren Mancia

The Conclusion reaffirms the importance of understanding the eleventh-century monastic affective piety for scholars of the Anglo-Norman world, of monasticism, of medieval devotion, and of medieval Christianity more generally. This study proves that the eleventh century was in fact a period of innovation – one that came before the so-called Renaissance of the twelfth century – a time when monks were not just interested in reforming rules and customs, but also their interior, emotional selves. In this conclusion, I state that by examining the work and context of one medieval individual – John of Fécamp – scholars can move from heretofore accepted generalisations about medieval ‘affective’ spiritual practice to a more vibrant understanding of the enigmatic, lived, emotional experiences of medieval Christian monks.

in Emotional monasticism
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.

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Rosamond McKitterick

an integral part of mainstream historical research’.1 The process of deconfessionalisation and secularisation in Europe and the United States in the latter part of the twentieth century had made it possible to study medieval Christianity more on its own terms, instead of looking at it as the origin of particular trends in the Catholic Church that were often regarded as backward and/or an aberration of true Christianity. The cultural phenomenon known as the ‘Carolingian Renaissance’, or ‘Frankish reform movement’, for example, is now mainly understood as ‘the

in Religious Franks
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Lauren Mancia

an interior connection with God was desired by and intended for traditional monks in the eleventh century. When the picture of traditional monasticism transforms into a more emotionally alive one, where monks sought emotional connection with God by many different and innovative means, the narrative of the development of medieval Christianity is transformed. Such emotional inwardness has been habitually characterised by medievalists of all kinds (historians, art historians, and literary scholars alike) as a ‘self-awareness’ or

in Emotional monasticism
Els Rose

the Carolingians made it a focus of their reform policy.9 What is new in the Carolingian period, as Mayke de J. Barrow, ‘Ideas and applications of reform’, in T.  Noble and J.  Smith (eds), The Cambridge History of Christianity. Early Medieval Christianities c.  600–c. 1000 (Cambridge, 2008), 345–62. 4 Barrow, ‘Reform’, p. 353, with reference to G. Ladner, ‘Gregory the Great and Gregory VII: a comparison of their concepts of renewal’, Viator 4 (1973), 1–31, p. 23. 5 For a comprehensive overview of Carolingian correctio, see R.  McKitterick, Charlemagne. The

in Religious Franks
Bernhard Maier

, which were discovered on the ancient monastic site of Derrynaflan, Co. Tippera­ry, in 1980, all of these objects now being in the National Museum of Ireland. A corollary to the central position of the scriptures and the written tradi­tion in early medieval Christianity was the importance of manuscripts and the art of writing, which led to the development of a peculiar ‘insular’ script, modelled on the continental uncial and half-uncial scripts.21 The earliest-known Irish manuscript is the so-called Codex Usserianus Primus, a Latin Gospel book (now in the library of

in Irish Catholic identities
James Paz

, Christianity was organised in ways that were local but nevertheless replicable anywhere: In effect, early medieval Christianity was neither centralized nor systematized. Not a single, uniform cultural package to be adopted or rejected as an entity, it comprised a repertoire of beliefs, social practices, and organizational forms that could be adopted and adapted piecemeal. Thus Christianity jumped from one cultural and political context to another, repeatedly mutating and reconstituting itself in ways that preserved its core features. Differently put, a religion with an

in Nonhuman voices in Anglo-Saxon literature and material culture
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How did laywomen become nuns in the early modern world?
Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt

. 2 Nancy Bradley Warren, ‘The ritual for the ordination of nuns’ in Miri Rubin, ed. Medieval Christianity in practice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009 ), pp. 318–23. 3 Asunción Lavrín notes that Bridgettine nuns in colonial Mexico had to lie

in Conversions