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Affections of the Mind

The Politics of Sacramental Marriage in Late Medieval English Literature

Emma Lipton

Publication Year: 2007

Affections of the Mind argues that a politicized negotiation of issues of authority in the institution of marriage can be found in late medieval England, where an emergent middle class of society used a sacramental model of marriage to exploit contradictions within medieval theology and social hierarchy. Emma Lipton traces the unprecedented popularity of marriage as a literary topic and the tensions between different models of marriage in the literature of the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by analyzing such texts as Chaucer's Franklin's Tale, The Book of Margery Kempe, and the N-Town plays. Affections of the Mind focuses on marriage as a fluid and contested category rather than one with a fixed meaning, and argues that the late medieval literature of sacramental marriage subverted aristocratic and clerical traditions of love and marriage in order to promote the values of the lay middle strata of society. This book will be of value to a broad range of scholars in medieval studies.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

Research for this book was generously supported by a Research Board fellowship from the University of Missouri, a Research Council Summer fellowship from the University of Missouri–Columbia, and by a Summer Research Fellowship and an Affirmative Action Research Grant from San Francisco State University. An early version of a portion of chapter 3 first appeared...

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Introduction: The Politics of Sacramental Marriage in Late Medieval Culture

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pp. 1-19

Recent controversies over gay marriage have highlighted the important place of marriage in the complex nexus of civic and religious authority in modern life. We have suddenly been reminded that marriage is a deeply political institution. Although contemporary conservative voices have critiqued the political appropriation of marriage as a “perversion” of “traditional...

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CHAPTER ONE. Married Friendship: An Ideology for the Franklin

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pp. 21-50

As with the other Canterbury Tales, criticism of the Franklin’s Tale has been preoccupied with identifying the ways in which the tale reflects the social status of the teller. Early critics have seen in Chaucer’s Franklin’s hopes for his son and in his opulent hospitality evidence of social climbing.1 On the other hand, Henrik Specht has argued that the Franklin is not a social climber...

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CHAPTER TWO. Public Voice, Private Life: Marriage and Masculinity in John Gower’s Traitié

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pp. 51-87

Despite medievalists’ ongoing interest in the subject of marriage, John Gower’s Anglo-Norman ballad sequence, Traitié pour Essampler les Amantz Marietz, which features a sequence of tales about the misfortunes of lovers who fail to respect the institution of marriage, has received little scholarly attention.1 The poem was written after the...

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CHAPTER THREE. Performing Reform: Marriage, Lay Piety, and Sacramental Theater in the N-Town Mary Plays

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pp. 89-128

Although the cult of the Virgin Mary was popular in the late Middle Ages, with the life of the Virgin told in many texts and new feasts of the Virgin added to the ecclesiastical calendar, there was no feast for her marriage and curiously little attention was given to the subject of her marriage in...

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CHAPTER FOUR. The Marriage of Love and Sex: Margery Kempe and Bourgeois Lay Identity

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pp. 129-160

It is striking that one of the most widely read depictions of medieval marriage was written by a bourgeois woman. According to both The Book of Margery Kempe and surviving records, Margery Kempe was a member of the urban mercantile elite. Records from the town of Lynn verify that her...

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pp. 161-214

...1. This phrase comes from a passage in De Consensu Evangelistarum in which Au-gustine discusses the marriage of Mary and Joseph. See Saint Augustin: Sermon on theMount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels, trans. William Findlay, 1st ser.,vol. 6, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church,ed. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954), 102–3. A fuller citation of this pas-...

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pp. 215-237

Aelred of Rievaulx. Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship. Trans. Mary Eugenia Laker.Cistercian Fathers Series 5. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1974. Anchoritic Spirituality. Trans. and ed. Anne Savage and Nicholas Watson. New York:Andreas Capellanus. Andreas Capellanus on Love. Trans. P. G. Walsh. London: Duck-———. The Art of Courtly Love. Trans. John Jay Parry. New York: Columbia Univer-...


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pp. 239-246

E-ISBN-13: 9780268085728
E-ISBN-10: 0268085722
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268034054
Print-ISBN-10: 0268034052

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 658149430
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Affections of the Mind

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Literature and society -- England -- History -- To 1500.
  • English literature -- Middle English, 1100-1500 -- History and criticism.
  • Marriage in literature.
  • Marriage -- Political aspects -- England -- History -- To 1500.
  • Social values in literature.
  • Social groups in literature.
  • Marriage -- Religious aspects.
  • Authority in literature.
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