Cover

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Series page, Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

I could not have written this book without advice and encouragement from so many people, and it is an honor to thank them here. This project began as a dissertation, and I owe a special debt of gratitude to Susan Crane, Paul Strohm, and Helen...

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List of Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

When quoting from the Bible, I have used the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). I use Vulgate numeration when quoting from the Psalms. When offering quotations in Middle English, I have silently omitted the square brackets that various editors...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-7

This is a book about the parish—not one particular parish, but the parish as an idea. In medieval parlance, “parish” was an umbrella term that encompassed not only the physical space of the parish church and its churchyard but also...

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1. At the Font and in the Grave: The Fabric of Parochial Identity

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pp. 8-32

When Langland’s dreamer meets Holy Church at the beginning of Piers Plowman, he has no idea who—or what—she is. “Thanne hadde I wonder in my wit what womman she weere,” he says, “That swiche wise wordes of Holy...

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2. Parochial Penance and the Making of the Parish

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pp. 33-63

The sacrament of penance—confession and contrition, followed by satisfaction—gave late medieval laypeople a chance to renew their commitment to the church, a chance to renew the spiritual contact they had made with God at the baptismal...

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3. The Parish on Its Feet: Lay Devotion and the Metaphor of Walking

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pp. 64-90

Walking was one of the most defining features of parochial worship. Processions were a regular occurrence in the ritual life of the parish, an important expression not only of the layperson’s step-by-step progression toward God...

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4. Working the Land, Working the Spirit: Agrarian Metaphor and Spiritual Community

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pp. 91-121

When Langland builds Holy Church at the end of Piers Plowman, he turns to agrarian models—the cart of Christendom, the Barn of Unity—and in doing so, he taps into a well-established tradition of linking the work of the...

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5. Reading the Prick of Conscience in the Parish

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pp. 122-148

The well-known Prick of Conscience Window (c. 1410–20, fig. 6)1 chronicles the fifteen signs of the end of the world, a motif that would have been familiar to its late medieval audience. Beginning at bottom left and moving from left to right...

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Epilogue: How Do I Save My Soul?

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pp. 149-154

In concluding this book, I am reminded of one of the central questions of Piers Plowman. Looking out over the field of folk, the dreamer wonders what it all means and what, even more importantly, he is supposed to do. Tell me, he asks...

Bibliography

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pp. 155-176

Index

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pp. 177-183

Other Titles in the Series

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p. 184

Back Cover

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Image Plates

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