Every new treatment of the seven deadly sins as contemporary sociological or psychological phenomena, or in popularized form in the print media and the visual arts, can be considered part of the reception history of both the vices and the scholarship on the sins - making it all the more urgent for medieval scholarship to re-examine the vitally important role the vices played in the period of their broadest and original dissemination. In spite of many recent treatments of the vices in the Middle Ages, for modern scholarship to a large degree only one book has served as a comprehensive guide to this area of medieval thought: Morton Bloomfield's pioneering The Seven Deadly Sins, published more than fifty years ago.
The present collection of essays offers the best new scholarship on the vices and aims thus both to re-examine the work begun by Bloomfield and to suggest possibilities for future research in this field in the coming decades. The areas touched on by the essays are numerous: from late-antique and late-medieval demonology to scholastic analytic philosophy, from sins of the tongue to 'motions' of the heart, from penitentials and sermons to illuminations in bibles moralisées and works in the conflictus genre, from discourse analysis to textual criticism, from gender and queer studies to social history and Begriffsgeschichte, properly so called. The study of the vices is ripe for participation in all these forms of theoretical discussion and cultural criticism. The contributors have not attempted to be exhaustive in any of them, but rather to point the way to the fruitfulness of further treatments of the vices in medieval culture.