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This collection of essays explores the survival of Catholic culture in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England—a time of Protestant domination and sometimes persecution. Contributors examine not only devotional, political, autobiographical, and other written texts, but also material objects such as church vestments, architecture, and symbolic spaces. Among the topics discussed in this volume are the influence of Latin culture on Catholic women, Marian devotion, the activities of Catholics in continental seminaries and convents, the international context of English Catholicism, and the influential role of women as maintainers of Catholic culture in a hostile religious and political environment. Catholic Culture in Early Modern England makes an important contribution to the ongoing project of historians and literary scholars to rewrite the cultural history of post-Reformation English Catholicism.
The Regulation of Language in Tudor-Stuart England
In this study of the reciprocities binding religion, politics, law, and literature, Debora Shuger offers a profoundly new history of early modern English censorship, one that bears centrally on issues still current: the rhetoric of ideological extremism, the use of defamation to ruin political opponents, the grounding of law in theological ethics, and the terrible fragility of public spheres. Starting from the question of why no one prior to the mid-1640s argued for free speech or a free press per se, Censorship and Cultural Sensibility surveys the texts against which Tudor-Stuart censorship aimed its biggest guns, which turned out not to be principled dissent but libels, conspiracy fantasies, and hate speech. The book explores the laws that attempted to suppress such material, the cultural values that underwrote this regulation, and, finally, the very different framework of assumptions whose gradual adoption rendered censorship illegitimate.
Virtually all substantive law on language concerned defamation, regulating what one could say about other people. Hence Tudor-Stuart laws extended protection only to the person hurt by another's words, never to their speaker. In treating transgressive language as akin to battery, English law differed fundamentally from papal censorship, which construed its target as heresy. There were thus two models of censorship operative in the early modern period, both premised on religious norms, but one concerned primarily with false accusation and libel, the other with false belief and immorality. Shuger investigates the first of these models—the dominant English one—tracing its complex origins in the Roman law of iniuria through medieval theological ethics and Continental jurisprudence to its continuities and discontinuities with current U.S. law. In so doing, she enables her reader to grasp how in certain contexts censorship could be understood as safeguarding both charitable community and personal dignitary rights.
For the scholastic philosopher William Ockham (c. 1285-1347), there are three kinds of heresy. The first, and most unmistakable, is an outright denial of the truths of faith. Another is so obvious that a very simple person, even if illiterate, can see how it contradicts Divine Scripture. The third kind of heresy is less clear cut. It is perceptible only after long deliberation and only to individuals who are learned, and well versed in Scripture.
It is this third variety of heresy that J.M.M.H. Thijssen addresses in Censure and Heresy at the University of Paris, 1200-1400. The book documents 30 cases in which university trained scholars were condemned for disseminating allegedly erroneous opinions in their teaching or writing, and focuses particularly on four academic censures that have occupied prominent positions in the historiography of medieval philosophy.
Thijssen grants central importance to a number of questions so far neglected by historians regarding judicial procedures, the authorities supervising the orthodoxy of teaching, and the effects of condemnations on the careers of the accused. He also places still current questions regarding academic freedom and the nature of doctrinal authority into their medieval contexts.
Francesc Eiximenis and the Court Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Iberia
In Chariots of Ladies, Nuria Silleras-Fernandez traces the development of devotion and female piety among the Iberian aristocracy from the late Middle Ages into the Golden Age, and from Catalonia to the rest of Iberia and Europe via the rise of the Franciscan Observant movement. A program of piety and morality devised by Francesc Eiximenis, a Franciscan theologian, royal counselor, and writer in Catalonia in the 1390s, came to characterize the feminine ideal in the highest circles of the Iberian aristocracy in the era of the Empire. As Eiximenis's work was adapted and translated into Castilian over the century and a half that followed, it became a model of devotion and conduct for queens and princesses, including Isabel the Catholic and her descendants, who ruled over Portugal and the Spanish Empire of the Hapsburgs.
Silleras-Fernandez uses archival documentation, letters, manuscripts, incunabula, and a wide range of published material to clarify how Eiximenis's ideas on gender and devotion were read by Countess Sanxa Ximenis d'Arenós and Queen Maria de Luna of Aragon and how they were then changed by his adaptors and translators in Castile for new readers (including Isabel the Catholic and Juana the Mad), and in sixteenth-century Portugal for new patronesses (Juana’s daughter, Catalina of Habsburg, and Catalina’s daughter, Maria Manuela, first wife of Philip II). Chariots of Ladies casts light on a neglected dimension of encounter and exchange in Iberia from the late fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries.
Challenges conventional views of medieval piety by demonstrating how the ideology of charity and its vision of the active life provided an important alternative to the ascetical, contemplative tradition emphasized by most historians
The Metaphor of Love in Dream Visions and Troilus and Criseyde
While covering all the major work produced by Geoffrey Chaucer in his pre-Canterbury Tales career, Chaucer from Prentice to Poet seeks to correct the traditional interpretations of these poems. Edward Condren provides new and provocative interpretations of the three "dream visions"--Book of the Duchess, Parliament of Fowls, and House of Fame--as well as Chaucer's early masterwork Troilus and Criseyde.
Condren draws an arresting series of portraits of Chaucer as glimpsed in his work: the fledgling poet seeking to master the artificial style of French love poetry; the passionate author attempting to rebut critics of his work; and, finally, the master of a naturalistic style entirely his own.
This book is one of the few works written in the past century that reevaluates Chaucer's early poetry and the only one that examines the Dream Visions in conjunction with the Troilus. It should frame the discourse of Chaucer scholarship for many generations to come.
Poetry and the Problem of the Populace After 1381
Chaucer, Gower, and the Vernacular Rising examines the spread of Greco-Roman and European literature into English during late fourteenth- and early fifteenth-century, a time when literacy was burgeoning among men and women from the non-ruling classes. The dissemination of cultural authority inherent in this process offered the radically democratizing potential for accessing, interpreting, and deploying learned texts. Focusing primarily on an overlooked sector of Chaucer’s and Gower’s early readership, namely, the upper strata of non-ruling urban classes, Lynn Arner argues that Chaucer’s and Gower’s writings, in addition to being key conduits of literary riches into English, engaged in elaborate processes of constructing cultural expertise. These writings helped to define gradations of cultural authority, determining who could contribute to the production of legitimate knowledge and granting certain socioeconomic groups political leverage in the wake of the English Rising of 1381. Chaucer, Gower, and the Vernacular Rising shows how English poetry became a powerful participant in processes of social control.
Vol. 34, no. 3 (2000) through current issue
Founded in 1966, The Chaucer Review is the journal of Chaucerian research. The Chaucer Review publishes studies of language, sources, social and political contexts, aesthetics, and associated meanings of Chaucer's poetry, as well as articles on medieval literature, philosophy, theology, and mythography relevant to study of the poet and his contemporaries, predecessors, and audiences. It acts as a forum for the presentation and discussion of research and concepts about Chaucer and the literature of the Middle Ages.
Using queer theory to untangle all types of nonnormative sexual identities, Tison Pugh uses Chaucer’s work to expose the ongoing tension in the Middle Ages between an erotic culture that glorified love as an ennobling passion and an anti-erotic religious and philosophical tradition that denigrated love and (perhaps especially) its enactments. Chaucer’s (Anti‑)Eroticisms and the Queer Middle Ages considers the many ways in which anti-eroticisms complicate the conventional image of Chaucer. With chapters addressing such topics as mutual masochism, homosocial brotherhood, necrotic erotics, queer families, and the eroticisms of Chaucer’s God, Chaucer’s (Anti‑)Eroticisms will forever change the way readers see the Canterbury Tales and Chaucer’s other masterpieces. For Chaucer, erotic pursuits establish the thrust and tenor of many of his narratives, as they also expose the frustrations inherent in pursuing desires frowned upon by the religious foundations of Western medieval culture. One cannot love freely within an ideological framework that polices sexuality and privileges the anti-erotic Christian ideals of virginity and chastity, yet loving queerly creates escapes from social structures inimical to amour and its expressions in the medieval period. Thus Chaucer is not just England’s foundational love poet, he is also England’s foundational queer poet.
Literature in Historical Context