Review of Week 6: Feb 15, 18 (by Jade Dilley)
This week we studied religion and community networks. We read Poems 9-18 in Ashmole 61, Carpenter’s article “Religion”, Newhauser (from Scalon) on “Religious Writing: Hagiography, Pastoralia, Devotional and Contemplative Works”, Youngs’ “Cultural Networks”, Kruger’s “Dialogue, Debate, and Dream Vision”, and Mortimer’s “What to Do”.
Tuesday Eric lead us in discussion about Carpenter’s article. This article helped to explain why the Reformation happened. As Eric points out Carpenter feels as if people were content with the practices of the religion but were fed up with the politics. This can be shown through the gentry. Page 135 talks about charity and its definition. Charity played a huge role in the life of the gentry. The gentry, as the text points out, did this by donating, sponsoring prayers, and the like. They believed in purgatory, were firm believers in the religious order, and had private prayer time. Individual prayer time, as pointed out on page 143, was crucial to their daily life. There was some controversy in class about the gentry and their charitable donations: many students questioned whether they did this out of the kindness of their hearts or if they did it simply as a business transaction. It is also important to note that the gentry did not have a great deal of time to simply think about their beliefs; they just followed what the church commanded them to do.
We then talked about “Dialogue, Debate, and Dream Vision”. Much of the texts that were being read at the time dealt with religious matter. Page 39 shows one of the key points that religious texts do not aim for topicality. These religious texts were found in poetry form, lyrics, and the stories of saint’s lives. There were many types of spiritual expression at the time, one of them being emotional. There was a particular fascination with the emotional form of expression. Margery Kemp was used as an example. Contemplation is a way that this form is practiced and is a way to feel more deeply.
On Thursday we began class by talking about Mortimer’s chapters on dress. It is interesting that during the Middle Ages people would know who was royalty simply by their dress. There were stipulations on what colors and type of fabrics that each class could wear. It is important to note this because during the Middle Ages there were not pictures of the royalty so their style of dress would be a huge identifier.
We also talked a great deal about Purgatory. This idea was developed in the Middle ages. Due to this idea of Purgatory most people at the time also prayed for the deceased in case they were in Purgatory.
Leslie also presented on the “Cultural Networks” article. Through this article we learned that the gentry had collective networks through literature and it helped show cultural values that were specific to the gentry. This is done by two ways: through a micro study of a particular work and through the popularity of a particular work or genre. Page 122 shows an example of compiled works that had local dialect. These texts created both a national and cultural identity. The nobility and the gentry both shared texts although it seems as if literature was more important to the gentry. We also discussed if the gentry was simply getting hand me downs from the nobility; we looked at page 128 while talking about this, and we decided it is a two way street. The nobility gets some things from the gentry and vice versa.
We also looked at Ashmole 61. The work on page 70, “The Rules for Purchasing Land” offers quite literally what its title reveals: the rules for purchasing land. This excerpt is like a to do manual. It is interesting that at this time there was poetry for everything. It helps to show values and what was important at the time. The work on page 80, “Prayer at the Levation”, is a context text that is a reminder of what to do when the Eucharist is presented. The work on page 81, “The Knight Who Forgave His Father’s Slayer” is one of the most common types of literature. It is a moral story (an exemplum), and an example of a work that a pastor would use.
hagiography- stories of saint’s lives. These were common literature at the time.
Preview for Next Week:
Maria will be class secretary. Jade will present on Tuesday (on Riddy) and Naomi will present on Thursday (on Diamond). The midterm out-of-class essay exam will be available in OAKS by Thursday evening at 6. (This will allow me time after Thursday’s class to ensure that the exam covers what we actually addressed in class discussion that day.) Your 3 essays will then be due the following Monday (the 28th) by 8pm, in OAKS.
Tuesday’s readings are all secondary materials (which will give us some time in class to play catch-up on what we’ve read in Ashmole 61 but not yet fully discussed, particularly “Carpenter’s Tools”). Riddy’s essay is especially useful for helping us to consider the social utility of conduct texts such as the parental advice poems we read weeks ago. The other readings are from the Gentry Culture book, on Gentility and Chivalry, which will provide us a useful frame for Thursday’s reading, the Middle English romance The Earl of Tolous, a personal favorite of mine. Thursday you’ll also read a literary analysis of the romance, by Diamond. (Do note that Earl of Tolous is the longest item in Ashmole 61 that we’ve encountered so far, and plan ahead accordingly.)