Description : This wide-ranging study of language and cultural change in fourteenth-century England argues that the influence of oral tradition is much more important to the advance of literacy than previously supposed. In contrast to the view of orality and literacy as opposing forces, the book maintains that the power of language consists in displacement, the capacity of one channel of language to take the place of the other, to make the source disappear into the copy. Appreciating the interplay between oral and written language makes possible for the first time a way of understanding the high literate achievements of this century in relation to momentous developments in social and political life. Part I reasseses the "nominalism" of Ockham and the "realism" of Wyclif through discussions of their major treatises on language and government. Part II argues that the chronicle histories of this century are tied specifically to oral customs, and Part III shows how Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Chaucer's Knight's Tale confront outright the displacement of language and dominion. Informed by recent discussions in critical theory, philosophy, and anthropology, the book offers a new synoptic view of fourteenth-century culture. As a critique of the social context of medieval literacy, it speaks directly to postmodern debate about the politics of historicism today.
Description : This book reconstructs John Wyclif's whole discourse on dominion in community by rereading his notorious works, and restores his fame and integrity as a serious and original thinker, 'Christ's lawyer, ' and the law giver of the English nation at the dawn of Reformation.
Description : Written by an international team of leading scholars, this groundbreaking reference work explores the nature of language change and diffusion, and paves the way for future research in this rapidly expanding interdisciplinary field. Features 35 newly-written essays from internationally acclaimed experts that reflect the growth and vitality of the burgeoning area of historical sociolinguistics Examines how sociolinguistic theoretical models, methods, findings, and expertise can be used to reconstruct a language's past in order to explain linguistic changes and developments Bridges the gap between the past and the present in linguistic studies Structured thematically into sections exploring: origins and theoretical assumptions; methods for the sociolinguistic study of the history of languages; linguistic and extra-linguistic variables; historical dialectology, language contact and diffusion; and attitudes to language
Description : Rights language is a fundamental feature of the modern world. Virtually all significant social and political struggles are waged, and have been waged for over a century now, in terms of rights claims. In some ways, it is precisely the birth of modern rights language that ushers in modernity in terms of moral and political thought, and the struggle for a modern way of life seems for many synonymous with the fight for a universal recognition of equal, individual human rights. Where did modern rights language come from? What kinds of rights discourses is it rooted in? What is the specific nature of modern rights discourse; when and where were medieval and ancient notions of rights transformed into it? Can one in fact find any single such transformation of medieval into modern rights discourse? This book brings together some of the most central scholars in the history of medieval and early-modern rights discourse. Through the different angles taken by its authors, the volume brings to light the multifaceted nature of rights languages in the medieval and early modern world.
Description : Performing the Middle Ages from 'Beowulf' to 'Othello' traces the dialogic nature of the relationship between the Middle Ages and modernity. Arguing that modern beliefs in the alterity of the Middle Ages stem from the Middle Ages' own processes of self-representation, Johnston explores varieties of nostalgia through a wide selection of texts. This volume spans an extensive chronological period with a view to demonstrating how our notions of the medieval have been crucially informed by the past itself. The study is focused on works which stage that popular literary archetype - the nostalgic figure of the aristocratic warrior - and argues that it is this image that provides a structural model for so many modern perspectives on the Middle Ages. And yet, in the Middle Ages this model was being deconstructed as it was also being generated. By moving from the self-consciously archaic heroism of Beowulf to the scathing comment on chivalric narrative presented in Chaucer's 'Knight's Tale', Johnston's analysis offers an intriguing insight into the way medieval texts engage in a continual aesthetic and ideological critique of their own cultural moment. Using Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Alliterative Morte Arthure as examples of an incisive critique of the cult of subjectivity and of a highly self-conscious desire for tradition, Johnston extends his analysis to the early seventeenth century, and explores the ways in which Shakespeare's Othello brilliantly deconstructs the very concept of 'Renaissance Man'. With its interest in issues of subjectivity, textual performance, and the ideological self-awareness of medieval culture, Performing the Middle Ages provides a scholarly and compelling investigation into the Middle Ages' ability both to understand itself and to shape (post)modern notions of the medieval.
Description : It not surprising that the development of the internet and related electronic technologies has coincided with an academic interest in the history of reading. Using and transmitting texts in new ways, scholars have become increasingly aware of the precise ways in which manuscripts and printed books transmitted texts to early modern readers. This volume collects nine essays on reading and literacy in Europe from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Topics include: the function of marginalia in vernacular medieval manuscripts; the trope of reading in the fourteenth century; the definition of literacy in early modern England; marginalia and reading practices in early modern Italy; revision of medieval texts in the Renaissance; the prevalence of translated French poetry in sixteenth century England; the use of poems as props in the plays of Shakespeare; the private reading of the playscripts of masques; early modern women's reading practices. These essays demonstrate the energy and excitement of the rapidly developing field of the history of reading. They will appeal to those interested in European cultural history, the transition from manuscript to print culture, the history of literacy, and the history of the book.
Description : These texts not only record debates about the nature of poverty as a form of either vice or virtue, but explore epistemological and ethical aspects of the debates. When faced with a claim of poverty, people effectively become readers interpreting the signs of need in the body and speech of their fellow human beings. The literary and dramatic texts of late medieval England embodied the complexity of such interaction with particular acuteness, revealing the ethical stakes of interpretation as an act with direct material consequences. As The Claims of Poverty demonstrates, medieval literature shaped perceptions about who is defined as 'poor', and in so doing it emerged as a powerful cultural force that promoted competing models of community, sanctity, and justice