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Cultural Reformations: Medieval and Renaissance in Literary History v. 2

Cultural Reformations: Medieval and Renaissance in Literary History v. 2

Hardback Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literature

Edited by Brian Cummings, Edited by James Simpson

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 704 pages
  • Dimensions: 176mm x 246mm x 44mm | 1,361g
  • Publication date: 20 August 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199212481
  • ISBN 13: 9780199212484
  • Illustrations note: Frontispiece and five black-and-white halftones

Product description

The original essays in Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literature mean to provoke rather than reassure, to challenge rather than codify. Instead of summarizing existing knowledge scholars working in the field aim at opening fresh discussion; instead of emphasizing settled consensus they direct their readers to areas of enlivened and unresolved debate. The deepest periodic division in English literary history has been between the medieval and the early modern, not least because the cultural investments in maintaining that division are exceptionally powerful. Narratives of national and religious identity and freedom; of individual liberties; of the history of education and scholarship; of reading or the history of the book; of the very possibility of persuasive historical consciousness itself: each of these narratives (and more) is motivated by positing a powerful break around 1500. None of the claims for a profound historical and cultural break at the turn of the fifteenth into the sixteenth centuries is negligible. The very habit of working within those periodic bounds (either medieval or early modern) tends, however, simultaneously to affirm and to ignore the rupture. It affirms the rupture by staying within standard periodic bounds, but it ignores it by never examining the rupture itself. The moment of profound change is either, for medievalists, just over an unexplored horizon; or, for Early Modernists, a zero point behind which more penetrating examination is unnecessary. That situation is now rapidly changing. Scholars are building bridges that link previously insular areas. Both periods are starting to look different in dialogue with each other. The change underway has yet to find collected voices behind it. Cultural Reformations volume aims to provide those voices. It will give focus, authority, and drive to a new area.

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Author information

James Simpson is Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English at Harvard University (2004-). He was previously Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at the University of Cambridge (1999-2003). He is a Life Fellow of Fellow of Girton College and an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. His books include Piers Plowman: An Introduction to the B-Text (Longman, 1990); Sciences and the Self in Medieval Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 1995); Reform and Cultural Revolution, being volume 2 in the Oxford English Literary History (Oxford University Press, 2002) (winner of the British Academy Sir Israel Gollancz Prize, 2007); and Burning to Read: English Fundamentalism and its Reformation Opponents (Harvard University Press, 2007) (winner of the Silver Medal, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, religion category). He is currently writing about iconoclasm in the Anglo-American tradition.

Review quote

There is a wonderful diversity of texts, approaches and ideas on offer here...an exciting and diverse volume. Mike Rodman Jones, Journal of Northern Renaissance

Table of contents

INTRODUCTION: MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE IN LITERARY HISTORY ; HISTORIES ; Anachronism ; National Histories ; Historiography ; Literary Histories ; SPATIALITIES ; Place ; Enclosed Spaces ; Travel ; DOCTRINES ; The Eucharist ; The Saints ; Vernacular Theology ; Conscience ; LEGALITIES ; Theatre ; When English became Latin ; Heresy and Treason ; Naughty Printed Books ; OUTSIDE THE LAW ; Utopian Pleasure ; Folly ; Despair ; LITERATURE ; Poetic Fame ; 'Literature' ; Style ; London Books and London Readers ; COMMUNITIES ; Community ; The Reformation of the Household ; Monasticism ; Nuns ; LABOUR ; Active and Contemplative Lives ; Childbirth ; Idleness ; SELFHOOD ; Persona ; Passion ; Autobiography and the History of Reading ; INDEX