Household knowledges in late-medieval England and France

Editors: Glenn Burger and Rory Critten

This collection of nine new chapters investigates how the late medieval household acts as a sorter, user, and disseminator of different kinds of ready information, from the traditional and authoritative to the innovative and newly made. Building on established work on the noble and royal ‘great household’, as well as on materialist historiography on rural and bourgeois domestic life, Household Knowledges considers bourgeois, gentry, and collegiate households on both sides of the English Channel. Arguing that the relationship between the domestic experience and the forms assumed by that experience’s cultural expression is both dynamic and reciprocal, the chapters in this volume address a range of cultural productions, including conduct texts, romances and comic writing, agricultural and estates management literature, devotional and medical writing, household music and drama, and manuscript anthologies. Contributors develop a range of methodologies, drawing on insights generated by recent manuscript scholarship as well as on innovations in affect theory and object relations theory; their chapters reconsider the constitution of the late-medieval urban and gentry home by practices of writing and reading, translation and language use, and manuscript compilation, as well as by the development of complex object–human relations and the adaptation of traditional gender and class roles. Together, the studies compiled in Household Knowledges provide a fresh illustration of the imaginative scope of the late medieval household, of its extensive internal and external connections, and of its fundamental centrality—both as an idea and a reality—to late-medieval cultural production.

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