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Studies and Texts (ST 165)

The Church and Vernacular Literature in Medieval France

D. Kullmann (ed.)
VIII+296 p., 155 x 230 mm, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-88844-165-2
Languages: English, French
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The rapid rise of vernacular literature in medieval France, within a culture which continued to acknowledge Latin as its vehicular language, is a fact that literary historians tend too easily to take for granted. Within a relatively short period, stretching roughly from the end of the eleventh century to the thirteenth century, French and Occitan literatures acquired an output and a level of sophistication that made them the leading models for other European literatures. New genres and new subject matters appear one after the other; new ideologies (such as the concept of love developed by the troubadours) are first expressed in vernacular creations; and even learned Latin authors soon feel obliged to take notice of these developments.

Should we describe this astonishing chapter of cultural history as the development of a “lay”, or “profane”, literature alongside a Church dominated learned and religious one, or as the emancipation of vernacular literature from the tutorship of the Church? Is the borderline between “lay” and “religious” texts and genres really as clear-cut as some literary histories would make us believe? How then did these new genres of written literature come into being in a culture in which the Church held the monopoly on education, including training in writing? Did the Church as an institution play any role in the birth and expansion of vernacular literature?

In the present volume, specialists from the disciplines of linguistics, literature, history and musicology address the various aspects of this complex of questions. The examples studied here are witnesses not only to a constant
interaction between lay and religious cultures but also to the productive tension that resulted from the particular situation of the Church in medieval France.

Interest Classification:
Medieval & Modern (Indo-European) Languages & Literatures
Romance literatures
Old & Middle French literature
Comparative & cultural studies through literature
Translation & vernacularity
Modern History (1501 to the present)
Early modern European history (1501-1800) : local & regional history

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