Affections of the Mind
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148 pages

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Affections of the Mind argues that a politicized negotiation of issues of authority in the institution of marriage can be found in late medieval England, where an emergent middle class of society used a sacramental model of marriage to exploit contradictions within medieval theology and social hierarchy. Emma Lipton traces the unprecedented popularity of marriage as a literary topic and the tensions between different models of marriage in the literature of the later fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by analyzing such texts as Chaucer's Franklin's Tale, The Book of Margery Kempe, and the N-Town plays.

Affections of the Mind focuses on marriage as a fluid and contested category rather than one with a fixed meaning, and argues that the late medieval literature of sacramental marriage subverted aristocratic and clerical traditions of love and marriage in order to promote the values of the lay middle strata of society. This book will be of value to a broad range of scholars in medieval studies.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 août 2011
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780268085896
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Affections of the Mind
Affections of the Mind
The Politics of Sacramental Marriage in Late Medieval English Literature
University of Notre Dame Press
Notre Dame, Indiana
University of Notre Dame Press
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2007 by University of Notre Dame
Reprinted in 2009
Designed by Wendy McMillen
Set in 11.2/14 Pavane by Four Star Books
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Lipton, Emma, 1964-
Affections of the mind : the politics of sacramental marriage in late medieval English literature / Emma Lipton.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-268-03405-4 (pbk. : alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 0-268-03405-2 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. English literature-Middle English, 1100-1500-History and criticism. 2. Marriage in literature. 3. Marriage-Political aspects-England-History-To 1500 4. Marriage-Religious aspects. 5. Authority in literature. 6. Social values in literature. 7. Social groups in literature. 8. Literature and society-England-History-To 1500. I. Title.
PR275.M3L57 2007
820.9 3543-dc22
This book is printed on acid-free paper .
ISBN 9780268085896
This e-Book was converted from the original source file by a third-party vendor. Readers who notice any formatting, textual, or readability issues are encouraged to contact the publisher at .
For my parents
Introduction: The Politics of Sacramental Marriage in Late Medieval Culture
CHAPTER ONE Married Friendship: An Ideology for the Franklin
CHAPTER TWO Public Voice, Private Life: Marriage and Masculinity in John Gower s Traiti
CHAPTER THREE Performing Reform: Marriage, Lay Piety, and Sacramental Theater in the N-Town Mary Plays
CHAPTER FOUR The Marriage of Love and Sex: Margery Kempe and Bourgeois Lay Identity
Research for this book was generously supported by a Research Board fellowship from the University of Missouri, a Research Council Summer fellowship from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and by a Summer Research Fellowship and an Affirmative Action Research Grant from San Francisco State University. An early version of a portion of chapter 3 first appeared as Performing Reform: The Marriage of Mary and Joseph in the N-Town Cycle in Studies in the Age of Chaucer 22 (2001). I am grateful for permission to reprint that material here. A few pages of that same chapter are drawn from Language on Trial: Performing the Law in the N-Town Trial Play in The Letter of the Law: Legal Practice and Literary Production in Medieval England , edited by Candace Barrington and Emily Steiner (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002).
I have many people to thank for their help in writing this book. Lee Patterson, Sarah Beckwith, Gail McMurray Gibson, Judith Ferster, and Stanley Fish shaped the initial project and my understanding of medieval literature and culture. Kathy Ashley, Frank Grady, and Emily Steiner read portions of the manuscript and made many helpful suggestions and comments. I am grateful for the engagement and support of my colleagues (and former colleagues) at University of Missouri, especially Martin Camargo, Ben Honey-cutt, and Bill Kerwin. My book was significantly improved by the responses of the two anonymous readers for the University of Notre Dame Press. My thanks to Barbara Hanrahan for her wisdom and patience in guiding me through the publication process. My ideas about medieval marriage and medieval literature have been deepened and strengthened by many of my friends who are medieval scholars, especially Candace Barrington, Patricia DeMarco, Carroll Hilles, and Ethan Knapp. They offered an ideal blend of friendship and scholarly acumen; each offered invaluable suggestions and encouragement at key moments.
John Evelev read all of the manuscript multiple times. Without his intellectual engagement, love, and support, I might never have finished. The arrival of my daughter Margaret brought joy and distraction to the final stages of revision. This book is dedicated to my parents: to my mother, Alice Lipton, who first sparked my interest in the past, and to my father, Chuck Lipton, who always encouraged me to follow my passions.
The Politics of Sacramental Marriage in Late Medieval Culture
Recent controversies over gay marriage have highlighted the important place of marriage in the complex nexus of civic and religious authority in modern life. We have suddenly been reminded that marriage is a deeply political institution. Although contemporary conservative voices have critiqued the political appropriation of marriage as a perversion of traditional values and of a holy institution, my book argues that a similar politicized negotiation of social and religious authority can be found in late medieval England where an emergent lay middle strata of society used the sacramental model of marriage to exploit contradictions within medieval theology and social hierarchy. This model, derived from Saint Augustine and later codified in the twelfth century, defined marriage not as consummation but as the affections of the mind, arguing that marriage was inherently virtuous. 1 According to the sacramental definition adopted by twelfth-century theologians and canonists, the substance of the sacrament of marriage was the mutual love between the two members of the couple; this love in turn was both the sign and substance of God s grace. Affections of the Mind: The Politics of Sacramental Marriage in Late Medieval English Literature traces the unprecedented popularity of the sacramental model of marriage as a literary topic in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to its role as a contested category in the ideological conflicts between the laity and clergy, and between the members of the middle strata and the aristocracy. My book explores the ways that sacramental marriage was used to debate questions of authority in the period in a diverse group of late medieval texts, including the romance of Geoffrey Chaucer s Franklin s Tale , John Gower s lyric ballad sequence Traiti pour Essampler les Amantz Marietz (Treatise for Exemplifying Married Lovers), the autobiography of the bourgeois mystic Margery Kempe, and the N-Town plays.
I argue that the existence of a body of literature in late medieval England that was preoccupied with sacramental marriage can be linked to two key changes in the structure of contemporary society: the growth of lay piety, and the increased size and power of the middle sections of society. In late medieval England, the lay middle strata were a growing part of society whose members sought to share and appropriate the privileges of both the aristocrats and the clerics. Members of the middle strata began to encroach on aristocratic prerogatives: non-noble landowners acted as parliamentary representatives, merchants purchased country estates and coats of arms, and, while the knightly class declined, esquires were elevated to gentle status. These new political and social roles for the middle strata threatened the traditional hierarchical status of the aristocracy. Similarly, the growth of vernacular literature and lay devotional practices changed the relationship between lay and clerical authority. Clerical prerogatives became a subject of explicit debate in polemics exchanged between Lollard and orthodox proponents over such questions as the nature of the sacraments and the idea of a priesthood of all believers. It is the primary contention of this book that late medieval English literature presented sacramental marriage as a model for such values as lay spirituality and mutuality in social relations, and in doing so, helped both to express and create values for the members of the emergent middle strata, as well as helping them to construct an identity for themselves and understand themselves as a social group.
Sacramental marriage was one element of a wide range of complex, contradictory, and contested ideas about medieval marriage. Although there were many tensions within medieval marriage, two are especially important for my argument here. 2 Complicating the sacramental definition of marriage as consent, medieval theologians also taught the doctrine of the marital debt that required couples to engage in marital sex if the other partner required it. Another tension was between an understanding of marriage as a partnership based in love, a vision linked to the sacramental model, and a depiction of marriage as the rule of the husband over his wife. Robert of Brunne s early fourteenth-century Handlying Synne , for example, paradoxically asserts that the husband is No to be mayster, but felaw, only to continue a few lines later to instruct that the husband is maystre, lorde syre / To hys wyl [his wife] shall meke hyre. 3 This juxtaposition of conflicting marriage models without an acknowledgment of their seeming incompatibility is characteristic of late medieval marriage teachings.
These contradictions between defining marriage as love or sex, and as partnership or rulership, made it a particularly apt venue for negotiating tensions about shifting social and religious authority in late medieval England. Saint Augustine s consensual vision valorized a mutual model of marriage, assigning virtuous standing to horizontal relations, and thus potentially offering an alternative vision for broader social relations, one that shifted from the rigid hierarchy of the Three Estates to a more egalitarian vision. On the other hand, the hierarchical marriage model was sometimes deployed in late medieval writing as a metaphor for royal or local governance. It is arguably p

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