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REVIEWS tions of the ‘‘History or Narration Concerning the Manner and Form of the Miraculous Parliament at Westminster in the Year 1386, in the Tenth Year of the Reign of Richard the Second after the Conquest, Declared by Thomas Favent, Clerk.’’ A disappointment of the volume is the lack of either a bibliography or at least an indexing of footnotes. By doing justice to the particularity and complexity of the texts they examine, many of the chapters end up replicating the density and difficulty of legal debate, resulting in an extremely difficult reading experience even for those of us who know the (literary, at least) texts well. Whether or not intentionally, the hidden thesis of the volume is that what recent literary interpretation has identified as the totalitarian nature of the Lancastrian usurpation now seems to color what used to be previously regarded as the authoritarian nature of the Edwardian and Ricardian reigns, to borrow Hannah Arendt’s terms. In addition to the importance of its subject matter, the book is also an introduction to the work of some of the leading figures among the next generation of scholars of Middle English literature, as well as collecting important contributions by such established figures as Galloway, Holsinger, and Green, making it essential reading for all readers of this journal. John M. Ganim University of California, Riverside Claire M. Waters. Angels and Earthly Creatures: Preaching, Performance, and Gender in the Later Middle Ages. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2004. Pp. xi, 282. $55.00. Recent studies of translation, Chaucer’s appropriations, vernacular theology , and the Wycliffite heresy have drawn attention to the complicated relationship between the laity and the clergy and between lay and clerical interests and knowledge in the later Middle Ages. Waters’s rich and engaging study offers a new perspective on this relationship, from the clerical side as it were, by reading the preacher himself (and his body) as marking the boundary: the preacher is a ‘‘hybrid,’’ bridging the divide between church and laity and the body and the word (p. 2). And her close examination of preaching handbooks (the first part of the PAGE 367 367 ................. 11491$ CH13 11-01-10 14:02:59 PS STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER study) reveals debates on how to theorize the preacher’s authority in light of the humanity (and language) he shares with the laity. Such theories of course depend on understanding the preacher as male, and the attention to gender in discussions of preaching leads Waters to argue that women were essential to the construction of preaching as a male, clerical activity. For the second part of her study, she turns to women’s preaching (both fictional and real) in two saints’ lives from Voragine’s Legenda Aurea, the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, and Birgitta of Sweden, and Chaucer’s Wife of Bath. In this way, she recuperates the marginal as central to the enterprise. The first two chapters take up Waters’s argument about the preacher ’s authority and his body. Chapter 1, ‘‘The Golden Chains of Citation ,’’ explores the ways in which church authorities, such as Gregory the Great and Bernard of Clairvaux, established the preacher’s authority over the laity through citation—‘‘of both authoritative words and authoritative individuals’’ (p. 14). Citation allowed male preachers to establish a lineage, through earlier models and Christ himself, from which women could be (and were) excluded. Here Waters uses speech-act theory to explain the way in which theorists set up a dichotomy between preaching (as the realm of the male clergy) and prophecy (open to both men and women): the former is ‘‘citable’’ and the second is extraordinary and noncitable (p. 23). With chapter 2, ‘‘Holy Duplicity: The Preacher’s Two Faces,’’ Waters examines the way in which embodiment complicates the preacher’s authority, both the body’s capacity to illustrate the preacher’s message (by being a virtuous example) and to call it into question (by being a sinful example). Waters argues that in attempting to minimize the person of the preacher, the artes reveal an understanding of preaching as performance: both in the preachers’ duplicity (those divisions between person and message) and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 367-370
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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