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Lisa H. Cooper offers new insight into the relationship of material practice and literary production in the Middle Ages by exploring the representation of craft labor in England from c.1000-1483. She examines genres as diverse as the school-text, comic poem, spiritual allegory, and mirror for princes, and works by authors both well-known (Chaucer, Lydgate, Caxton) and far less so. Whether they represent craft as profitable endeavor, learned skill, or degrading toil, the texts she reviews not only depict artisans as increasingly legitimate members of the body politic, but also deploy images of craft labor and its products to confront other complex issues, including the nature of authorship, the purpose of community, the structure of the household, the fate of the soul, and the scope of princely power.Read more
- First book-length study of artisans in medieval English literature
- Provides a multifaceted set of readings, making use of research into economic, social, intellectual, artistic, and technological history, but focusing on literary and textual culture
- Contributes not only to literary scholarship, but also to the study of the history and theory of labor and material culture
Reviews & endorsements
" …[a] fascinating and eye-opening book. … is bound to change the way we perceive craftsmen in the literature of late medieval England and beyond."
Martha Rust, Journal of English and Germanic Philology
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- Date Published: April 2011
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521768979
- length: 296 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 160 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.6kg
- contains: 11 b/w illus.
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
Introduction: a is for artisan
1. Making conversations: from Ælfric's Colloquy to Caxton's Dialogues
2. Laboring legends: writing home in fable and fabliau
3. Shaping souls: artisanal allegory in the Pilgrimage poems of Guillaume de Deguileville and John Lydgate
4. Mirroring monarchs: Rex/Artifex in the Speculum Principum tradition
Epilogue: crafting nostalgias.
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