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Medieval Poetics and Social Practice

Responding to the Work of Penn R. Szittya

Seeta Chaganti

Publication Year: 2012

This collection responds to the critical legacy of Penn R. Szittya, the recently retired former chair of Georgetown University's English Department. Inspired by Georgetown's Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice and its statement that poetry "traverses the fields of aesthetic, social, political, and religious thought," this work investigates how medieval poetic language reflects and also shapes social, political, and religious worlds. At a moment in contemporary culture when poetry finds its value increasingly challenged, Medieval Poetics and Social Practice looks to the late Middle Ages to assert the indispensability of poetry and poetics in the formation of social structures, actions, and utterances. The contributors offer new readings of canonical late-medieval English poetic texts, such as Langland's Piers Plowman and Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls, and, of equal importance, explore texts that have hitherto not held a central place in criticism but make important contributions to the literary culture of the period. Introduced by Seeta Chaganti, the collection includes essays by Richard K. Emmerson, J. Patrick Hornbeck, John C. Hirsh, Moira Fitzgibbons, John T. Sebastian, Nicholas R. Havely, Kara Doyle, Anne Middleton, Jo Ann Moran Cruz, and Mark McMorris.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Series: Fordham Series in Medieval Studies (FUP)

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. 1-10

This book pays tribute to the career of Penn R. Szittya, who retired from the English department at Georgetown University in 2009. The collection’s title derives from Georgetown’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, an institution to which Penn lent considerable support while chairing the English department. Named and...

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Visual Translation in Fifteenth- Century English Manuscripts

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pp. 11-32

Although the role of linguistic translation in the expansion of medieval literature and the establishment of English as a literary vernacular is well known, the role played by visual translation, the creation of manuscript images to picture and interpret verbal texts, has yet to be fully...

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Barn of Unity or the Devil’s Church? Salvation and Ecclesiology in Langland and the Wycliffites

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pp. 33-52

Avery Dulles, the late Roman Catholic theologian, may seem an odd starting point for a discussion of religious reformers in late- medieval England. Th e son of an American secretary of state, a Jesuit priest, a cardinal, and a frequent defender of the conservative orthodoxy of Pope John Paul II, Dulles would appear to have...

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Christian Poetics and Orthodox Practice: Meaning and Implication in Six Carols by James Ryman, O.F.M.

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pp. 53-71

Though rarely announced publicly, Penn Szittya’s thoughtful and progressive social attitudes have for many years found powerful if indirect expression in his teaching and his scholarship, in his chairmanship of Georgetown’s English Department, and in his founding, together with his friend and colleague Jo Ann Hoeppner Moran...

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Enabled and Disabled “Myndes” in The Prick of Conscience

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pp. 72-94

This essay will argue that The Prick of Conscience contributes in important ways to late- medieval discussions of human rationality and thought.1 Th e engagement of the unnamed Conscience poet with these issues might seem surprising, given how vividly and adamantly he depicts the wretchedness of the world, the inevitability...

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The Idea of Public Poetry in Lydgatean Religious Verse: Authority and the Common Voice in Devotional Literature

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pp. 95-108

Recent analyses of the verse and prose writings of John Lydgate have turned to Anne Middleton’s well- known idea of Ricardian “public poetry” to describe the role of the Lancastrian laureate in shaping response to social debates conducted in the public sphere.1 Public poetry, in Middleton’s formulation, is above all that which...

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Nature’s Yerde and Ward: Authority and Choice in Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls

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pp. 109-123

At the end of the debate in Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, as Nature struggles to control the increasingly raucous voices, she turns to the creature she (like some noble hawking lady) holds “on hir honde”: the female eagle (“formel”).1 Throughout all the “noble dispute,” the “noise,” and the variety of “verdicts” that have...

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Fabulous Women, Fables of Patronage: Metham’s Amoryus and Cleopes and BL MS Additional 10304

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pp. 124-142

In Chaucer and His Readers, Seth Lerer refers to Chaucer’s “fables of patronage: fictional accounts of power relationships that, in allegorical or figurative ways, tell stories of the commission and reception of literature.”1 Th e fables of patronage created by Chaucer cast a long shadow in the fifteenth century, Lerer demonstrates, as male poets, patrons,...

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Dowel, the Proverbial, and the Vernacular: Some Versions of Pastoralia

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pp. 143-169

The small bright feature that prompts this essay is the English dictum “do well and have well,” with which the Priest “construes” the text of the Pardon in English.1 While this moment has proved pivotal both to the ensuing formal unfolding of the poem and to the course of its critical history, I do not attempt here to traverse...

Published Works by Penn R. Szittya

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pp. 170-171

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Penn R. Szittya as Scholar and Teacher

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pp. 172-181

Because of the wide range of Penn Szittya’s scholarship, this volume offers here a brief survey of his critical works to supplement their bibliographical listing. Readers who are familiar with his writing or teaching in one area of literary studies might learn through this survey about his role in other areas. Penn Szittya has contributed...

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The Desire to Write Things Down: A Poetic Palimpsest on Certain Remarks by Penn Szittya

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pp. 182-194

Th e genre of the profile has strict requirements: verisimilitude, a correspondence between internal character and exterior setting. Like a photographer, the writer must situate his subject against a purposeful background. Th is setting is meant to mark invisible dispositions, but obliquely, like signs that promise— only promise— the revelations of allegory. I think Penn would dislike...


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pp. 195-242


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pp. 243-244


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pp. 245-250

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246236
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823243242
Print-ISBN-10: 0823243249

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Fordham Series in Medieval Studies (FUP)
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OCLC Number: 826442809
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Medieval Poetics and Social Practice

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Subject Headings

  • English poetry -- Middle English, 1100-1500 -- History and criticism.
  • Great Britain -- Social life and customs -- 1066-1485.
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