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Medieval Conduct

Medieval Conduct

Kathleen Ashley
Robert L. A. Clark Editors
Volume: 29
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsjxn
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  • Book Info
    Medieval Conduct
    Book Description:

    Focusing on a broad range of texts from England, France, Germany, and Italy—conduct and courtesy books, advise poems, devotional literature, trial records—the contributors to Medieval Conduct draw attention to the diverse ways in which readers of this literature could interpret such behavioral guides, appropriating them to their own ends. Contributors: Mark Addison Amos, Anna Dronzek, Roberta L. Krueger, Ruth Nissé, Ann Marie Rasmussen, Jennifer Fisk Rondeau, Claire Sponsler.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9156-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. INTRODUCTION Medieval Conduct: TEXTS, THEORIES, PRACTICES
    (pp. IX-XX)
    Kathleen Ashley and Robert L. A. Clark

    One of the most problematic sites in contemporary cultural theorizing is the link between text and history. The question of how we theorize the connection between documents or texts and lived practice or performance remains open, as we see from debates within a number of fields—anthropology, history, theater, and mass media studies, to name but a few. Fixed epistemological assumptions about the stability of sign and knowability of referent basic to many disciplines have also been called into question by the insights of poststructuralism. Medieval conduct provides an exemplary location for exploring these theoretical issues. We place equal emphasis...

  5. 1 Eating Lessons: LYDGATE’S “DIETARY” AND CONSUMER CONDUCT
    (pp. 1-22)
    Claire Sponsler

    In Book IV of hisChroniques, Jean Froissart describes a meeting with an English squire named Henry Chrystede, who tells Froissart the following story.¹ Chrystede, who had been brought up in Ireland and was fluent in the language, was put in charge of four Irish kings who had come to Dublin to declare their submission to the English crown during Richard II’s expedition to Ireland in 1394–95. Chrystede’s task, during the month he spent with the Irish kings, was to educate them in the customs of the English, refashioning their behavior, bearing, and dress, for they were, Chrystede claims,...

  6. 2 “For Manners Make Man”: BOURDIEU, DE CERTEAU, AND THE COMMON APPROPRIATION OF NOBLE MANNERS IN THE BOOK OF COURTESY
    (pp. 23-48)
    Mark Addison Amos

    England in the fifteenth century saw a number of economic and social shifts that further challenged the already blurring line dividing her nobility from her most powerful commoners. As the ruling bureaucracy became increasingly secularized and the importance of the Commons grew, many urban professionals attained positions of great power and influence. At the same time, the development of England’s international, capitalistic cloth trade concentrated unprecedented wealth and financial power in the hands of London’s merchant and entrepreneurial guilds; and as London Companies replaced England’s barons as the Crown’s major source of finances, formal political power soon followed. A number...

  7. 3 “Nouvelles choses”: SOCIAL INSTABILITY AND THE PROBLEM OF FASHION IN THE LIVRE DU CHEVALIER DE LA TOUR LANDRY, THE MÉNAGIER DE PARIS, AND CHRISTINE DE PIZAN’S LIVRE DES TROIS VERTUS
    (pp. 49-85)
    Roberta L. Krueger

    The vexed relationship between women’s fashion, gender roles, desire, sexuality, social distinction, ethics, community, and textual commentary—which can be witnessed today in the contrast between the profashion hype ofCosmopolitanor the Style channel and the somber social analysis ofNo Sweat, a recent manifesto against unethical labor practices in the globalization of textile production¹—finds its tangled roots in the late medieval period. Then, as now, the domain of women’s dress was a highly conflicted area surrounded by ethical ambivalence as it evoked, paradoxically and simultaneously, positive impulses for self-expression; the desire for youth, beauty, and love; apprehension...

  8. 4 The Miroir des bonnes femmes: NOT FOR WOMEN ONLY?
    (pp. 86-105)
    Kathleen Ashley

    Over the past twenty years and from a variety of contemporary theoretical perspectives, we have learned to read meaning as deriving from more than the contents of the isolated text. Whether we look to structuralism and semiotics generally, with their insistence that place within a whole system governs the meaning of the part, or to Bourdieu and de Certeau, with their particular interest in how cultural practices produce meaning, the autonomy of the verbal text is called into question. De Certeau, for example, insists that “the presence and circulation of a representation (taught by preachers, educators, and popularizers as the...

  9. 5 Fathers to Think Back Through: THE MIDDLE HIGH GERMAN MOTHER-DAUGHTER AND FATHER-SON ADVICE POEMS KNOWN AS DIE WINSBECKIN AND DER WINSBECKE
    (pp. 106-134)
    Ann Marie Rasmussen

    When thinking about medieval conduct literature as a genre, perhaps the first issue a scholar ponders is whether there is any medieval German secular text that does not explore in some fashion the question of proper conduct that leads to good repute in this world or to salvation in the next. All medieval literature can seem at heart a moral-didactic enterprise; whence, from what place, arises a separate genre of conduct literature? Yet when modern scholars reflect on medieval conduct literature as a thematically defined genre, they are often revisiting a clearly profiled medieval topos—sage advice imparted by a...

  10. 6 Gendered Theories of Education in Fifteenth-Century Conduct Books
    (pp. 135-159)
    Anna Dronzek

    Education has always served as a means of socialization, a way to train children in the conduct their society considers acceptable. In fifteenth-century England, education was not limited to mastery of the seven liberal arts, nor was it restricted to the classroom; equally important was children’s instruction in proper conduct. Many of the Latin texts used in the classroom, such as theDistichs of Cato, were designed to foster not only language skills, but social skills.¹ The classroom, however, was only one of a number of arenas in which children were educated, and one to which not all children had...

  11. 7 Constructing the Female Subject in Late Medieval Devotion
    (pp. 160-182)
    Robert L. A. Clark

    Devotional manuals might appear at first glance an unlikely site for an investigation of medieval subjectivity. Written in a highly prescriptive mode, such texts seem to presuppose passive subjects who would have little choice but to submit to the models and programs of conduct that their authors, who were almost always male, sought to impose upon their readers. The type of subjectivity emerging from such an understanding would thus largely preclude agency or self-fashioning on the part of the consumers of these texts. Such an assumption would, however, be mistaken. In their efforts to understand how medieval texts construct subjectivity...

  12. 8 Conducting Gender: THEORIES AND PRACTICES IN ITALIAN CONFRATERNITY LITERATURE
    (pp. 183-206)
    Jennifer Fisk Rondeau

    Why conduct literature? What is it in the first place, and why do we want to investigate it? Why do we care about what people wrote in the past about how they themselves or others ought to behave, to “conduct” themselves, to put it crudely? In addressing these very broad questions, I want to raise some theoretical issues that go well beyond the scope of this essay and this volume but to which both essay and volume speak. Briefly, I want to discuss the relationship between (post)modern theories of the subject on the one hand, and medieval studies on the...

  13. 9 Grace under Pressure: CONDUCT AND REPRESENTATION IN THE NORWICH HERESY TRIALS
    (pp. 207-226)
    Ruth Nissé

    One of the most intriguing tenets abjured by Robert Cavell, the renegade parish chaplain of Bungay, in the fifteenth-century Norwich Lollard trials is that “no honor should be given to images of the crucifix, Mary or any other saint, but that the trees growing in the woods have more vigor and power and should be worshiped rather than stone or dead wood carved in resemblance of a person.”¹ As Margaret Aston points out, Cavell’s idiosyncratic phrasing of the common Wycliffite criticism of images clearly derives from the teaching of his notorious associate, the guiding spirit of the Norwich group William...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 227-232)
  15. Index
    (pp. 233-241)