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Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law

Vol. 30 (2013) through current issue

The Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law is dedicated to the history of canon law and, more broadly, the history of the Ius commune. It publishes high-quality peer-reviewed articles that deal with all aspects of church law and jurisprudence in the medieval and early modern periods. The journal, published annually, also provides a select bibliography of recently published essays and books to help scholars easily find the best recent works in their discipline.

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The Bureaucratic Muse

Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of Late Medieval England

Ethan Knapp

Long neglected as a marginal and eccentric figure, Thomas Hoccleve (1367–1426) wrote some of the most sophisticated and challenging poetry of the late Middle Ages. Full of gossip and autobiographical detail, his work has made him immensely useful to modern scholars, yet Hoccleve the poet has remained decidedly in the shadow of Geoffrey Chaucer. In The Bureaucratic Muse, Ethan Knapp investigates the connections between Hoccleve's poetic corpus and his life as a clerk of the Privy Seal. The early fifteenth century was a watershed moment in the histories of both centralized bureaucracy and English vernacular literature. These were the decades in which Chaucer's experiments in a courtly English poetry were rendered into a stable tradition and in which the central writing offices at Westminster emerged from personal government into the full-blown modernity of independent civil service. Knapp shows the importance of Hoccleve's poetry as a site where these two histories come together. By following the shifting relationship between the texts of vernacular poetry and those of bureaucratic documents, Knapp argues that the roots of vernacular fiction reach back into the impersonal documentary habits of a bureaucratic class. The Bureaucratic Muse, the first full-length study of Hoccleve since 1968, provides an authoritative historical and textual treatment of this important but underappreciated writer. Chapters focus on Hoccleve's importance in consolidating key concepts of the literary field such as autobiography, religious heterodoxy, gendered identity, and post-Chaucer textuality. This book will be of interest to scholars of Middle English literature, autobiography, gender studies, and the history of literary institutions.

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The Burgundian Code

Book of Constitutions or Law of Gundobad; Additional Enactments

Translated by Katherine Fischer Drew. Foreword by Edward Peters

"Gives the reader a portrayal of the social institutions of a Germanic people far richer and more exhaustive than any other available source."—from the Foreword, by Edward Peters

From the bloody clashes of the third and fourth centuries there emerged a society that was neither Roman nor Burgundian, but a compound of both. The Burgundian Code offers historians and anthropologists alike illuminating insights into a crucial period of contact between a developed and a tribal society.

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By Force and Fear

Taking and Breaking Monastic Vows in Early Modern Europe

An unwilling, desperate nun trapped in the cloister, unable to gain release: such is the image that endures today of monastic life in early modern Europe. In By Force and Fear, Anne Jacobson Schutte demonstrates that this and other common stereotypes of involuntary consignment to religious houses-shaped by literary sources such as Manzoni's The Betrothed-are badly off the mark.

Drawing on records of the Congregation of the Council, held in the Vatican Archive, Schutte examines nearly one thousand petitions for annulment of monastic vows submitted to the Pope and adjudicated by the Council during a 125-year period, from 1668 to 1793. She considers petitions from Roman Catholic regions across Europe and a few from Latin America and finds that, in about half these cases, the congregation reached a decision. Many women and a smaller proportion of men got what they asked for: decrees nullifying their monastic profession and releasing them from religious houses. Schutte also reaches important conclusions about relations between elders and offspring in early modern families. Contrary to the picture historians have painted of increasingly less patriarchal and more egalitarian families, she finds numerous instances of fathers, mothers, and other relatives (including older siblings) employing physical violence and psychological pressure to compel adolescents into "entering religion." Dramatic tales from the archives show that many victims of such violence remained so intimidated that they dared not petition the pope until the agents of force and fear had died, by which time they themselves were middle-aged. Schutte's innovative book will be of great interest to scholars of early modern Europe, especially those who work on religion, the Church, family, and gender.

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The Byzantine Empire (Revised Edition)

Robert Browning

This classic study presents the history of the Byzantine Empire from the sixth to the fifteenth century in terms of political events, art, literature, and thought. It is addressed to the general reader of history as well as to students and scholars.

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Caesar in Gaul and Rome

War in Words

By Andrew M. Riggsby

Anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with Latin knows “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres” (“All Gaul is divided into three parts”), the opening line of De Bello Gallico, Julius Caesar's famous commentary on his campaigns against the Gauls in the 50s BC. But what did Caesar intend to accomplish by writing and publishing his commentaries, how did he go about it, and what potentially unforeseen consequences did his writing have? These are the questions that Andrew Riggsby pursues in this fresh interpretation of one of the masterworks of Latin prose. Riggsby uses contemporary literary methods to examine the historical impact that the commentaries had on the Roman reading public. In the first part of his study, Riggsby considers how Caesar defined Roman identity and its relationship to non-Roman others. He shows how Caesar opens up a possible vision of the political future in which the distinction between Roman and non-Roman becomes less important because of their joint submission to a Caesar-like leader. In the second part, Riggsby analyzes Caesar's political self-fashioning and the potential effects of his writing and publishing the Gallic War. He reveals how Caesar presents himself as a subtly new kind of Roman general who deserves credit not only for his own virtues, but for those of his soldiers as well. Riggsby uses case studies of key topics (spatial representation, ethnography, virtus and technology, genre, and the just war), augmented by more synthetic discussions that bring in evidence from other Roman and Greek texts, to offer a broad picture of the themes of national identity and Caesar's self-presentation.

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The Captive Woman's Lament in Greek Tragedy

By Casey Dué

The laments of captive women found in extant Athenian tragedy constitute a fundamentally subversive aspect of Greek drama. In performances supported by and intended for the male citizens of Athens, the songs of the captive women at the Dionysia gave a voice to classes who otherwise would have been marginalized and silenced in Athenian society: women, foreigners, and the enslaved. The Captive Woman's Lament in Greek Tragedy addresses the possible meanings ancient audiences might have attached to these songs. Casey Dué challenges long-held assumptions about the opposition between Greeks and barbarians in Greek thought by suggesting that, in viewing the plight of the captive women, Athenian audiences extended pity to those least like themselves. Dué asserts that tragic playwrights often used the lament to create an empathetic link that blurred the line between Greek and barbarian. After a brief overview of the role of lamentation in both modern and classical traditions, Dué focuses on the dramatic portrayal of women captured in the Trojan War, tracing their portrayal through time from the Homeric epics to Euripides' Athenian stage. The author shows how these laments evolved in their significance with the growth of the Athenian Empire. She concludes that while the Athenian polis may have created a merciless empire outside the theater, inside the theater they found themselves confronted by the essential similarities between themselves and those they sought to conquer.

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Captives and Their Saviors in the Medieval Crown of Aragon

Jarbel Rodriguez

Captives and Their Saviors in the Medieval Crown of Aragon argues that by this time the ransoming efforts were on a kingdom-wide scale engaging not only professional ransomers, merchants, and officials of the crown but the population at large.

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The Capture of Constantinople

The "Hystoria Constantinopolitana" of Gunther of Pairis

Edited and Translated by Alfred J. Andrea

The armies of the Fourth Crusade that left Western Europe at the beginning of the thirteenth century never reached the Holy Land to fight the Infidel; they stopped instead at Byzantium and sacked that capital of eastern Christendom. Much of what we know today of those events comes from contemporary accounts by secular writers; their perspective is balanced by a document written from a monastic point of view and now available for the first time in English.

The Hystoria Constantinopolitana relates the adventures of Martin of Pairis, an abbot of the Cistercian Order who participated in the plunder of the city, as recorded by his monk Gunther. Written to justify the abbot's pious pilferage of scared relics and his transporting them back to his monastery in Alsace, it is a work of Christian metahistory that shows how the sack of Constantinople fits into God's plan for humanity, and that deeds done under divine guidance are themselves holy and righteous.

The Hystoria Constantinopolitana is one of the most complex and sophisticated historiographical work of its time, deftly interweaving moods and motifs, themes and scenes. In producing the first English translation and analysis of this work, Alfred Andrea has captured the full flavor of the original with its alternating section of prose and poetry. His introduction to the text provides background on Gunther's life and work and explores the monk's purpose in writing the Hystoria Constantinopolitana—not the least of which was extolling the virtues of Abbott Martin, who was sometimes accuse of laxity by his superiors in the Order.

Gunther's work is significant for its effort to deal with problems raised by the participation of monks in the Crusades, making it a valuable contribution to both crusading and monastic history. The Capture of Constantinople adds to our knowledge of the Fourth Crusade and provides unusual insight into the attitudes of the participants and the cultural-intellectual history of the early thirteenth century.

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The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity

In this provocative book Éric Rebillard challenges many long-held assumptions about early Christian burial customs. For decades scholars of early Christianity have argued that the Church owned and operated burial grounds for Christians as early as the third century. Through a careful reading of primary sources including legal codes, theological works, epigraphical inscriptions, and sermons, Rebillard shows that there is little evidence to suggest that Christians occupied exclusive or isolated burial grounds in this early period.

In fact, as late as the fourth and fifth centuries the Church did not impose on the faithful specific rituals for laying the dead to rest. In the preparation of Christians for burial, it was usually next of kin and not representatives of the Church who were responsible for what form of rite would be celebrated, and evidence from inscriptions and tombstones shows that for the most part Christians didn't separate themselves from non-Christians when burying their dead. According to Rebillard it would not be until the early Middle Ages that the Church gained control over burial practices and that "Christian cemeteries" became common.

In this translation of Religion et Sépulture: L'église, les vivants et les morts dans l'Antiquité tardive, Rebillard fundamentally changes our understanding of early Christianity. The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity will force scholars of the period to rethink their assumptions about early Christians as separate from their pagan contemporaries in daily life and ritual practice.

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