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Literature, Culture, and Ideology in Late Medieval England
In The Claims of Poverty, Kate Crassons explores a widespread ideological crisis concerning poverty that emerged in the aftermath of the plague in late medieval England. She identifies poverty as a central preoccupation in texts ranging from Piers Plowman and Wycliffite writings to The Book of Margery Kempe and the York cycle plays. Crassons shows that these and other works form a complex body of writing in which poets, dramatists, and preachers anxiously wrestled with the status of poverty as a force that is at once a sacred imitation of Christ and a social stigma; a voluntary form of life and an unwelcome hardship; an economic reality and a spiritual disposition. Crassons argues that literary texts significantly influenced the cultural conversation about poverty, deepening our understanding of its urgency as a social, economic, and religious issue. These texts not only record debates about the nature of poverty as a form of either vice or virtue, but explore epistemological and ethical aspects of the debates. When faced with a claim of poverty, people effectively become readers interpreting the signs of need in the body and speech of their fellow human beings. The literary and dramatic texts of late medieval England embodied the complexity of such interaction with particular acuteness, revealing the ethical stakes of interpretation as an act with direct material consequences. As The Claims of Poverty demonstrates, medieval literature shaped perceptions about who is defined as "poor," and in so doing it emerged as a powerful cultural force that promoted competing models of community, sanctity, and justice.
The Politics of History in Medieval and Early Modern Spain
Monarchs throughout the ages have commissioned official histories that cast their reigns in a favorable light for future generations. These accounts, sanctioned and supported by the ruling government, often gloss over the more controversial aspects of a king's or queen’s time on the throne. Instead, they present highly selective and positive readings of a monarch’s contribution to national identity and global affairs. In Clio and the Crown, Richard L. Kagan examines the official histories of Spanish monarchs from medieval times to the middle of the 18th century. He expertly guides readers through the different kinds of official histories commissioned: those whose primary focus was the monarch; those that centered on the Spanish kingdom as a whole; and those that celebrated Spain’s conquest of the New World. In doing so, Kagan also documents the life and work of individual court chroniclers, examines changes in the practice of official history, and highlights the political machinations that influenced the redaction of such histories. Just as world leaders today rely on fast-talking press officers to explain their sometimes questionable actions to the public, so too did the kings and queens of medieval and early modern Spain. Monarchs often went to great lengths to exert complete control over the official history of their reign, physically intimidating historians, destroying and seizing manuscripts and books, rewriting past histories, and restricting history writing to authorized persons. Still, the larger practice of history writing—as conducted by nonroyalist historians, various scholars and writers, and even church historians—provided a corrective to official histories. Kagan concludes that despite its blemishes, the writing of official histories contributed, however imperfectly, to the practice of historiography itself.
The Organization of Knowledge and Community in Europe
The fourteen essays that comprise Collections in Context: The Organization of Knowledge and Community in Europe interrogate questions posed by French, Flemish, English, and Italian collections of all sorts—libraries as a whole, anthologies and miscellanies assembled within a single manuscript or printed book, and even illustrated ivory boxes. Collecting became an increasingly important activity during the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries, when the decreased cost of producing books made ownership available to more people. But the act of collecting is never neutral: it gathers information, orders material (especially linear texts), and prioritizes everything—in short, collecting both organizes and comments on knowledge. Moreover, the context of a collection must reveal something about identity, but whose? That of the compiler? The reader or viewer? The donor? The patron? With essays by a wide array of international scholars, Collections in Context demonstrates that the very act of collecting inevitably imposes some kind of relationship among what might otherwise be naively thought of as disparate elements and simultaneously exposes something about the community that created and used the collection. Thus, Collections in Context offers unusual insights into how collecting both produced knowledge and built community in early modern Europe.
Vol. 43 (2012) through current issue
Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, published annually under the auspices of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, publishes articles by graduate students and new scholars (within five years of receiving the PhD) working in any field of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. The annual journal is distributed internationally to libraries and individuals.
Focuses on the problem of communication with the other world: the phenomenon of spirit possession and its changing historical interpretations, the imaginary schemes elaborated for giving accounts of the journeys to the other world, for communicating with the dead, and finally the historical archetypes of this kind of religious manifestation—trance prophecy, divination, and shamanism. Recognized historians and ethnologists analyze the relationship, coexistence and conflicts of popular belief systems, Judeo-Christian mythology and demonology in medieval and modern Europe. The essays address links between rites and beliefs, folklore and literature; the legacy of various pre-Christian mythologies; the syncretic forms of ancient, medieval and modern belief- and rite-systems; "pure" examples from religious-ethnological research outside Europe to elucidate European problems.
The Chester-le-Street Additions to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19
The Community of St. Cuthbert in the Late Tenth Century: The Chester-le-Street Additions to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 reveals the dynamic role a seemingly marginalized community played during a defining period for the emergence of English religious identity. Based on her new critical edition of additions made to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 and by questioning the purpose of those late tenth-century additions, Karen Louise Jolly is able to uncover much about the Chester-le-Street scribes and their tumultuous time, rife as it was with various political tensions, from Vikings and local Northumbrian nobles to an increasingly dominant West Saxon monarchy. Why, for instance, would a priest laboriously insert an Old English gloss above every Latin word in a collection of prayers intended to be performed in Latin? What motivated the same English scribe to include Irish-derived Christian materials in the manuscript, including prayers invoking the archangel Panchiel to clear birds from a field? Jolly’s extensive contextual analysis includes a biography of Aldred, the priest and provost of the community primarily responsible for adding these unusual texts. Besides reinterpreting the manuscript's paleography and codicology, she investigates both the drive for reform evidenced by the added liturgical materials and the new importance of Irish-derived encyclopedic and educational materials.
Essays in Memory of Bryce Lyon (1920-2007)
The book features a section of appreciations of Bryce Lyon followed by three sections on the major areas on which Lyon's research concentrated: the legacy of Henri Pirenne, constitutional and legal history of England and the Continent, and the economic history of the Low Countries. Original essays by Bernard S. Bachrach, David S. Bachrach, Jan Dumolyn, Caroline Dunn, Jelle Haemers, John H. A. Munro, James M. Murray, Anthony Musson, David Nicholas, W. Mark Ormrod, Walter Prevenier, Jeff Rider, Don C. Skemer, and Marci Sortor deepen our understanding of Lyon's career and siginificance and further our knowledge of the areas in which he worked.
This modern English translation of all the surviving literary compositions ascribed to Liudprand, the bishop of Cremona from 962 to 972, offers unrivaled insight into society and culture in western Europe during the "iron century."
Confessions of a Rational Mystic exposes both aspects of this transitional thinker through a multidimensional interpretation of his Pioslogion. It treats Anselm's famous proof for the existence of God as both a rational argument and an exercise in mystical theology, analyzing the logic of its reasoning while providing a phenomenological account of the vision of God that is embedded within it. Through a deconstructive reading of the cycle of prayer and proof that forms the overall structure of the text, not only is the argument returned to its place in the Proslogion as a whole, but the historic relationship that it attempts to establish between faith and reason is examined. In this way, the critical role that Anselm played in the history of philosophy is seen in a new light.