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1. Critical Approaches

David Raybin

Subject Literature » Medieval Literature

Place United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland » England

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1300-1399, 1400-1499

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631219736.2007.00006.x


Critical theory at the beginning of the twenty-first century has refocused the historicizing of late medieval English literature and culture. A new wave of manuscript studies is bringing deeper understanding of the surviving physical evidence, of early book culture, of reception, and of the trilingual character of late medieval English literature. Feminist analysis and gender-based studies continue to expand our sense of the scope of the history available to be examined. Religious studies, such as those of the Lollard movement or the cultures of orthodoxy and dissent, are refining our understanding of the age's spiritual climate. The scholarship of intertextuality — especially of how earlier writers influenced Chaucer and his contemporaries, and of how Chaucer and Langland influenced fifteenth-century authors — has articulated important continuities between the periods now labelled medieval and early modern . Studies of popular culture interrogate the historical basis of legend. And philologists old and new are allowing us to see how verbal play and nuance may reveal a writer's stance on pivotal spiritual and political debates. In studies of the past decade, a few emphases are prominent: Multilingualism and Vernacularity – what does it mean that writers choose to write in English instead of (or along with) courtly French and learned Latin, and how far may one distinguish London ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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