Transforming Talk: The Problem with Gossip in Late Medieval England

Transforming Talk: The Problem with Gossip in Late Medieval England

by Susan E. Phillips
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In recent decades, scholars have shown an increasing interest in gossip’s social, psychological, and literary functions. The first book-length study of medieval gossip, Transforming Talk shifts the current debate and argues that gossip functions primarily as a transformative discourse, influencing not only social interactions but also literary and

Overview

In recent decades, scholars have shown an increasing interest in gossip’s social, psychological, and literary functions. The first book-length study of medieval gossip, Transforming Talk shifts the current debate and argues that gossip functions primarily as a transformative discourse, influencing not only social interactions but also literary and religious practices. Known as “jangling” in Middle English, gossip was believed to corrupt parishioners, disturb the peace, and cause civil and spiritual unrest. But gossip was also a productive cultural force; it reconfigured pastoral practice, catalyzed narrative experimentation, and restructured social and familial relationships.

Transforming Talk will appeal to a diverse audience, including scholars interested in late medieval culture, religion, and society; Chaucer; and women in the Middle Ages.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Transforming Talk is impressive both in what it accomplishes and what it manages to avoid. A topic like gossip might unwisely tempt a writer into pop or pretentious theoretical clichés, but instead Phillips has produced a study that is clearly written, well documented, solidly argued, and, above all, original in general concept and its specific readings. With confidence and subtlety, Phillips deals with a wide range of late medieval writing, from obscure works to Chaucerian masterpieces, exploring not only gossip’s transgressions but also, and especially, its protean abilities to generate new and surprising narratives.”

—C. David Benson, University of Connecticut

“This is an extremely well-researched book, and the numerous helpful bibliographic and discursive footnotes are evidence of an astute scholarly mind.”

—A. L. Kaufman, Choice

“Susan Phillips has done us a great service in writing this book about medieval gossip, for not only does she extend [its] premises . . . with theoretical, historical, and literary support, and in clear and intelligent prose, but she also focuses her exploration at the site of the beginnings of what we recognize as English, the early modern world of late Middle English, the language of Chaucer, Manning, and Dunbar, the world of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England.”

—John Michael Crafton, Christianity and Literature

“Even if one is not convinced by the larger argument for the transformative capacity of idle talk, this study is filled with fresh, provocative readings that demonstrate the value of taking idle speech seriously.”

—Karla Taylor, Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780271029955
Publisher:
Penn State University Press
Publication date:
08/24/2012
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.57(d)

Meet the Author

Susan E. Phillips is Associate Professor of English at Northwestern University.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >