Relics and Writing in Late Medieval England

Robyn Malo

© 2013

Relics and Writing in Late Medieval England uncovers a wide-ranging medieval discourse that had an expansive influence on English literary traditions. Drawing from Latin and vernacular hagiography, miracle stories, relic lists, and architectural history, this study demonstrates that, as the shrines of England’s major saints underwent dramatic changes from c. 1100 to c. 1538, relic discourse became important not only in constructing the meaning of objects that were often hidden, but also for canonical authors like Chaucer and Malory in exploring the function of metaphor and of dissembling language.

Robyn Malo argues that relic discourse was employed in order to critique mainstream religious practice, explore the consequences of rhetorical dissimulation, and consider the effect on the socially disadvantaged of lavish expenditure on shrines. The work thus uses the literary study of relics to address issues of clerical and lay cultures, orthodoxy and heterodoxy, and writing and reform.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 308 pages
  • Illustrations: 5
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Relics and Writing in Late Medieval England uses the literary study of relics to address issues of clerical and lay cultures, orthodoxy and heterodoxy, and writing

and reform.

Relics and Writing in Late Medieval England

Robyn Malo

© 2013

Relics and Writing in Late Medieval England uncovers a wide-ranging medieval discourse that had an expansive influence on English literary traditions. Drawing from Latin and vernacular hagiography, miracle stories, relic lists, and architectural history, this study demonstrates that, as the shrines of England’s major saints underwent dramatic changes from c. 1100 to c. 1538, relic discourse became important not only in constructing the meaning of objects that were often hidden, but also for canonical authors like Chaucer and Malory in exploring the function of metaphor and of dissembling language.

Robyn Malo argues that relic discourse was employed in order to critique mainstream religious practice, explore the consequences of rhetorical dissimulation, and consider the effect on the socially disadvantaged of lavish expenditure on shrines. The work thus uses the literary study of relics to address issues of clerical and lay cultures, orthodoxy and heterodoxy, and writing and reform.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 308 pages
  • Illustrations: 5
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘Fascinating study…This book constitutes an impressive contribution to our understanding of relics and relic discourse, and offers an important reminder of the reciprocal and interconnected relationship among discourse, text, and materiality in medieval culture.’


    Barbara Zimbalist
    Journal of Medieval religious Cultures vol 40:02:2014

    ‘Anyone interested in the general question of how relics signified and functioned will benefit from reading, and pondering along with this thought provoking book…. Malo’s book forces us to think more carefully and explicitly about the dynamics that many of us have been taking for granted.’


    Felicie Lifshitz
    Speculum April 2015

    Relics and Writing is learned, intelligent, and well structures … Malo’s skillful distillation of the patterns of relic discourse should provoke further thought about the ways in which medieval literature patterns itself upon religious objects.’


    Elizabeth Allen
    Modern Philology vol 112:04:2015

    “I found this an exceptional and beautifully  written meditation on shrines, relics, and their profound cultural significance in the Middle Ages. Robyn Malo’s approach to the significance of relics, relic discourse and attitudes to bodies, both of the living and the dead, took me beyond the outstanding work done by Duffy and Bynum in this domain. To be able to contribute to an important field well worked by some brilliant historians is a remarkable achievement.”


    David Aers, James B. Duke Professor of English and Historical Theology, Duke University

    “Beautifully written, both rhetorically and stylistically, this book exhibits a depth of erudition and a scintillating sophistication that one rarely finds in an interdisciplinary study. Robyn Malo bases her synthesis of social history, the history of devotion, relics and reliquaries and literary history in the relevant scholarship, yet always provides new perspectives as she articulates her overarching thesis about ‘relic discourse’ with utter clarity.”


    Kathleen Ashley, Professor of English, University of Southern Maine
  • Author Information

    Robyn Malo is an asociate professor in the Department of English at Purdue University.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction

    Part I – Relic Discourse and the Cult of Saints

    Chapter 1 – Representing Relics

    Chapter 2 – The Commonplaces of Relic Discourse

    Part II – The Trouble with Relic Discourse

    Chapter 3 – English Grail Legends and the Holy Blood

    Chapter 4 – Relic Discourse in The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale and Troilus and Criseyde

    Chapter 5 – Wycliffite Texts and the Problem of Enshrinement 

    Coda – The Cultural Work of Relic Discourse

    Notes

    Bibliography

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