Sin in Medieval and Early Modern Culture: The Tradition of the Seven Deadly Sins

Sin in Medieval and Early Modern Culture: The Tradition of the Seven Deadly Sins


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The tradition of the seven deadly sins played a considerable role in western culture, even after the supposed turning-point of the Protestant Reformation, as the essays collected here demonstrate. The first part of the book addresses such topics as the problem of acedia in Carolingian monasticism; the development of medieval thought on arrogance; the blending of tradition and innovation in Aquinas's conceptualization of the sins; the treatment of sin in the pastoral contexts of the early Middle English Vices and Virtues and a fifteenth-century sermon from England; the political uses of the deadly sins in the court sermons of Jean Gerson; and the continuing usefulness of the tradition in early modern England. In the second part, the role of the tradition in literature and the arts is considered. Essays look at representations of the sins in French music of the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries; in Dante's Purgatorio; in a work by Michel Beheim in pre-Reformation Germany; and in a 1533 play by the German Lutheran writer Hans Sachs. New interpretations are offered of Gower's "Tale of Constance" and Bosch's Tabletop of the Seven Deadly Sins. As a whole, the book significantly enhances our understanding of the multiple uses and meanings of the sins tradition, not only in medieval culture but also in the transition from the medieval to the early modern period.

Richard G. Newhauser is Professor of English and Medieval Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe; Susan J. Ridyard is Professor of History and Director of the Sewanee Medieval Colloquium, The University of the South, Sewanee.

Contributors: Richard G. Newhauser, James B. Williams, Kiril Petkov, Cate Gunn, Eileen C. Sweeney, Holly Johnson, Nancy Mc Loughlin, Anne Walters Robertson, Peter S. Hawkins, Carol Jamison, Henry Luttikhuizen, William C. Mc Donald, Kathleen Crowther.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781903153413
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer, Limited
Publication date: 10/18/2012
Pages: 358
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Plates vii

List of Contributors ix

Acknowledgements xiii

List of Abbreviations xiv

Introduction Richard G. Newhauser 1

I The Sins in Religious, Intellectual and Pastoral Contexts

1 Working for Reform: Acedia, Benedict of Aniane and the Transformation of Working Culture in Carolingian Monasticism James B. Williams 19

2 The Cultural Career of a 'Minor' Vice: Arrogance in the Medieval Treatise on Sin Kiril Petkov 43

3 Vices and Virtues: A Reassessment of Manuscript Stowe 34 Cate Gunn 65

4 Aquinas on the Seven Deadly Sins: Tradition and Innovation Eileen C. Sweeney 85

5 A Fifteenth-Century Sermon Enacts the Seven Deadly Sins Holly Johnson 107

6 The Deadly Sins and Contemplative Politics: Gerson's Ordering of the Personal and Political Realms Nancy McLoughlin 132

7 'These Seaven Devils': The Capital Vices on the Way to Modernity Richard G. Newhauser

II The Sins in the Musical, Literary and Visual Arts

8 The Seven Deadly Sins in Medieval Music Anne Walters Robertson 191

9 The Religion of the Mountain: Handling Sin in Dante's Purgatorio Peter S. Hawkins 223

10 John Gower's Shaping of 'The Tale of Constance' as an Exemplum contra Envy Carol Jamison 239

11 Through Boschian Eyes: An Interpretation of the Prado Tabletop of the Seven Deadly Sins Henry Luttikhuizen 261

12 Singing Sin: Michel Beheim's 'Little Book of the Seven Deadly Sins', a German Pre-Reformation Religious Text for the Laity William C. McDonald 282

13 Raising Cain: Vice, Virtue and Social Order in the German Reformation Kathleen Crowther 304

Index 321

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