Fama: The Politics of Talk and Reputation in Medieval Europe

Overview

In medieval Europe, the word fama denoted both talk (what was commonly said about a person or event) and an individual's ensuing reputation (one's fama). Although talk by others was no doubt often feared, it was also valued and even cultivated as a vehicle for shaping one's status. People had to think about how to "manage" their fama, which played an essential role in the medieval culture of appearances. This book's authors consider how talk was created and entered into memory. ...
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Overview

In medieval Europe, the word fama denoted both talk (what was commonly said about a person or event) and an individual's ensuing reputation (one's fama). Although talk by others was no doubt often feared, it was also valued and even cultivated as a vehicle for shaping one's status. People had to think about how to "manage" their fama, which played an essential role in the medieval culture of appearances. This book's authors consider how talk was created and entered into memory.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In a model of interdisciplinary exchange, the editors, noted literary and legal history scholars Thelma Fenster and Daniel Lord Smail, offer a well-conceived volume replete with original scholarship by some of the best scholars in their fields. . . . Fama, according to the editors, intersected with terms like honor, shame, status, and witnessing, and glossed the essential nexus of performance, talk, reputation, and speech regulation. Fama thus defied classification, crossing the boundaries of literary, legal, religious, and secular worlds, like many of the articles in this volume. . . . The contributors are in concert with one another, weaving a textual conversation about talk in a collection that is sure to inspire future dialogue and debate about the importance of talk in medieval Europe for years to come."—Susan J. Dudash, Utah State University, H-France Review Vol 4 Oct 2004

"This volume. . . . is exemplary. . . . The subject is both large and new. . . . This book deserves considerable bona fama of its own. Nor should it be of interest only to medievalists and early modernists. Modernists, too, will find much of interest, clearly accessible. Here U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence 609 jostles modern French juges d'instruction, John Austin joins Pierre Bourdieau, and cucking-stools migrate from fifteenth-century England to colonial North America."—Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania, American Historical Review June 2004

"Fama remains one of the richest, most unified, and polished collections of essays on medieval culture and society that I have read in quite some time."—John Watkins, Clio, 34:1-2

"It seems quite appropriate that Fama: The Politics of Talk and Reputation in Medieval Europe should be co-edited by a historian and a literary specialist: the book is truly interdisciplinary, cutting across issues of popular culture, law, literature, and gender. It offers an intriguing introduction to a topic whose value is unmistakable and is thus an original contribution to our knowledge of the Middle Ages."—Constance Brittain Bouchard, Distinguished Professor of Medieval History, University of Akron

"This book is polished and coherent—a pleasure and a learning experience to read."—Jan Ziolkowski, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801488573
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2003
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Lord Smail is Professor of History at Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Fama and the Law in Twelfth-Century Tuscany 15
2 Fama as a Legal Status in Renaissance Florence 27
3 Silent Witnesses, Absent Women, and the Law Courts in Medieval Germany 47
4 Good Name, Reputation, and Notoriety in French Customary Law 75
5 Infamy and Proof in Medieval Spain 95
6 Constructing Reputations: Fama and Memory in Christine de Pizan's Charles V and L'Advision Cristine 118
7 Sin, Speech, and Scolding in Late Medieval England 145
8 Romancing the Word: Fama in the Middle English Sir Launfal and Athelston 165
9 Fama and Pastoral Constraints on Rebuking Sinners: The Book of Margery Kempe 187
Conclusion 210
Selected Bibliography 215
Contributors 219
Index 223
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