Book Series Late Medieval and Early Modern Studies, vol. 21

Middle English Religious Writing in Practice

Texts, Readers, and Transformations

Nicole R. Rice (ed)

  • Pages: 280 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:2 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2013

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54102-0
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54124-2
  • E-book
  • Available

A collection of new essays exploring the cultural functions and social impact of Middle English religious writing at the close of the Middle Ages and into the sixteenth century.


"From its studies of manuscripts, reading communities, and textual transmission to its helpful critical apparatus, this collection offers a model for how collaborative scholarship can deepen our understanding of the complex meanings and uses of medieval devotional writings, not only for their original audiences but also for their later readers." (Shannon Gayk, in: The Medieval Review 14.11.13)

"Spostando il punto di osservazione dei testi dalla parte dei fruitori, il volume di Nicole Rice riesce a mettere in luce le dinamiche che legano autori e lettori, i quali hanno a loro volta plasmato e trasformato le opere stesse. L’attenzione spinta a esaminare non solo la genesi ma anche l’utilizzo dei libri e la loro circolazione, calata nel contesto sociale, contribuisce a una comprensione profonda del significato dei testi, della loro evoluzione e della loro percezione: in questo senso la letteratura devozionale in middle English diventa anche uno strumento di espressione delle idee, delle pratiche e delle esperienze spirituali di un’intera societa." (Laura Albiero, in: Studi Medievali Ser. 3, 57, 1, 2016, p. 353-357)

“(…) is a well-conceived collection of essays with impressive range and scope. The editor, Nicole Rice, has gathered eight essays of uniformly high quality (…) well researched (each is followed by an extensive, very useful bibliography), well written, and persuasively argued. It is one of the most uniformly high-quality collections I have had the privilege to encounter in some time. Students and scholars of later medieval English religion will find much to intrigue and edify them in this collection.” (Nancy Bradley Warren, in Speculum, 91/3, 2016, p. 836-838)

“This collection provides a useful cross-section of current work in this area, with a welcome emphasis on manuscript studies.” (Alexandra Barratt, in Parergon, 34/2, 2017, p. 275)


Although the Middle English texts broadly categorized as ‘devotional literature’ have received considerable scholarly attention in recent years, much work remains to be done on the cultural meanings and textual transformations of vernacular religious writing during the later medieval period and into the sixteenth century. During these years, popular (but still little-studied) late medieval works such as the Pore Caitif circulated in varied forms amid changing circumstances: the expansion of audiences for Middle English texts, the emergence and persecution of Lollardy, attempts at ecclesiastical censorship, the advent of printing, and the Henrician Reformation. How did Middle English religious texts answer changing cultural and practical needs and the requirements of orthodoxy? How did older texts find new readers; how did these readers alter and deploy them? This collection capitalizes on widespread current interest in these questions, gathering original essays that analyze the many forms, meanings, and legacies of Middle English religious writing.



Introduction - Nicole R. Rice

Part I. Continental Religious Women in English Practice

From the Charterhouse to the Printing House: Catherine of Siena in Medieval England - Jennifer N. Brown

Medieval and Modern Readership of Marguerite Porete’s Mirouer des simples âmes anienties: The French and English Traditions - Michael G. Sargent

Poetry as Prayer: John Audelay’s ‘Salutation to St Bridget’ - Martha W. Driver

Part II. Manuscript Compilation and the Adaptation of Religious Practice

From ‘Companion to the Novitiate’ to ‘Companion to the Devout Life’: San Marino, Huntington Library, MS HM 744 and Monastic Anthologies of the Twelfth-Century Reform - Mary Agnes Edsall

Lay Spiritual Texts and Pastoral Care in Two Fifteenth-Century Priests’ Collections - Nicole R. Rice

Part III. Negotiating Orthodoxy: Revision, Circulation, Annotation

Women, Tales, and ‘Talking Back’ in Pore Caitif and Dives and Pauper - Moira Fitzgibbons

‘Citizens of Saints’: Creating Christian Community in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 23 - Stephen Kelly and Ryan Perry

Sixteenth-Century Readers Reading Fifteenth-Century Religious Books: The Roberts Family of Middlesex - Margaret Connolly

Index of Manuscripts

General Index