Gender and Language in Later Middle English Writing
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The Ohio State University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Many thanks to Larry Scanlon, who first showed me how fascinating medieval studies could be. The guidance of Larry and the other members of my dissertation committee—Susan Crane, Chris Chism, and Felicity Riddy—was vital to this project from its earliest phase. ...
Introduction: The Origins of Womanhood
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In 1348, a group of beautiful women began appearing at tournaments dressed as men. Henry Knighton, a canon of St. Mary’s Abbey in Leicester, mentions in his chronicle these unusual women and the discomfort they provoked. The passage shows Knighton grappling with the problem of describing women ...
Chapter 1: Amazons and Saints: Chaucer’s Tales of Womanhood
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Since the earliest work on gender in late medieval literature, there has been a great deal of attention to Chaucer’s representations of women and whether those reveal a sly antifeminism or a sympathetic protofeminism. Many scholars, including Elaine Tuttle Hansen, Jill Mann, and Priscilla Martin, have approached this issue by studying Chaucer’s female characters; ...
Chapter 2: Beastly Women and Womanly Men: Gower’s Confessio Amantis
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Cower’s idea of womanhood is in some ways more flexible and more radical than Chaucer’s and it complements as well as counters the latter.1 Gower’s treatment of women has attracted less attention from critics (with a few notable exceptions such as Diane Watt and Karma Lochrie), perhaps because his interests in politics and morality have overshadowed his other concerns.2 ...
Chapter 3: Lydgate’s Lady and Henryson’s Whore: Womanhood in the Temple of Glas and the Testament of Cresseid
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By the fifteenth century, womanhood has moved out of the earliest phase of its development but writers continue to use the term and concept in innovative and flexible ways. While John Lydgate, Thomas Hoccleve, Robert Henryson, and James I all employ the word in their texts,1 the ways in which Lydgate’s Temple of Glas and Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid develop the idea are especially significant. ...
Chapter 4: Vernacularity, Femininity, and Authority: Reinventing Motherhood in The Shewings of Julian of Norwich and The Book of Margery Kempe
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Margery Kempe’s and Julian of Norwich’s lives suggest some of the ways in which women’s experiences in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries exceeded the extant gender stereotypes and vocabulary—in other words, the very issue that womanhood and related coinages began to address. ...
Conclusion: The Evolution of Womanhood in Fifteenth-Century Discourse
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What happens to womanhood as both the historical conditions that prompted new ideas about women and the gendered language that expressed such ideas continue to evolve? The previous chapters have examined how fourteenth-century writers—most notably, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and Julian of Norwich—fashioned or expanded concepts of womanhood ...
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Interventions: New Studies in Medieval Culture