Documentary Culture and the Making of Medieval English Literature

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Emily Steiner describes the rich intersection between legal documents and English literature in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The literature of this period, from Passion lyrics to Lollard sermons, abounds in documentary language and metaphors. Steiner argues that documentary culture (including charters, testaments, patents, and seals) enabled writers to think in new ways about the conditions of textual production in late medieval England. She explains that the distinctive rhetoric, material forms, and ritual performance of legal documents offered writers of Chaucer's generation and the generation succeeding him a model of literary practice. Covering a wide variety of medieval texts: sermons, lyrics, Piers Plowman, Mum and the Sothsegger, The Book of Margery Kempe, heretical writings, and trial records - this study will be of interest to scholars of medieval literary studies and medieval studies in general.
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Editorial Reviews

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"[T]his attentive and intriguing study will appeal to those interested in legal documents in relaion to medieval literature and cultures. Recommended." Choice
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Emily Steiner is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the editor (with Candace Barrington) of The Letter of the Law: Legal Practice and Literary Production in Late Medieval England (2002).

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Introduction 1
1 Bracton, Deguileville, and the defense of allegory 17
2 Lyric, genre, and the material text 47
3 Piers Plowman and the archive of salvation 93
4 Writing public: Documents in the Piers Plowman tradition 143
5 Lollard community and the Charters of Christ 193
6 Lollard rhetoric and the written record: Margery Baxter and William Thorpe 229
Epilogue: "My lordys lettyr & the seel of Cawntyrbery" 240
Bibliography 247
Index 263
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