The Church as Sacred Space in Middle English Literature and Culture - (Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture) by Laura Varnam (Paperback)
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About the Book This book places us at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what it meant to them and why. Drawing on a wide range of theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches, it examines the interplay of vernacular literature, ritual and material culture at the centre of parish life. Book Synopsis This book presents an exciting new approach to the medieval church by examining the role of literary texts, visual decorations, ritual performance and lived experience in the production of sanctity. The meaning of the church was intensely debated in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The book explores what was at stake not only for the church's sanctity but for the identity of the parish community as a result. Focusing on pastoral material used to teach the laity, it shows how the church's status as a sacred space at the heart of the congregation was dangerously - but profitably - dependent on lay practice. The sacred and profane were inextricably linked and, paradoxically, the church is shown to thrive on the sacrilegious challenge of lay misbehaviour and sin. From the Back Cover The church as sacred space in Middle English literature and culture puts us at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the laity in order to ask what it meant to them and why. Exploring a range of Middle English pastoral literature - including sermons, treatises, miracle narratives and a church foundation legend, alongside liturgy, architecture and material culture - the book examines the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, it offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture. This book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts. Review Quotes 'The Church as Sacred Space is a tour de force. Its overall shape is cleverly conceived and Laura Varnam is to be warmly thanked for not only bringing together a rich plethora of Middle English sermons, miracle stories, treatises, and the record of a church foundation, but also sourcing insights from contemporary architecture, material culture, and liturgy... its an invaluable and thoroughly engaging introduction and points the reader to further study by offering a painstakingly prepared bibliography of primary and secondary texts, and online resources.' A Journal of Christian Spirituality 'An excellent example of the insightful scholarship that emerges from interdisciplinary approaches to medieval studies... Its engaging prose and compelling insights make it difficult to put down. The book contains extensive chapter endnotes and a comprehensive bibliography. Varnam's arguments are well worth consideration, and its interdisciplinary approach to sacred space makes it a study with a broad academic appeal.' Journal of English and Germanic Philology About the Author Laura Varnam is Lecturer in Old and Middle English Literature at University College, Oxford

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