Fama: The Politics of Talk and Reputation in Medieval Europe

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Thelma S. Fenster, Daniel Lord Smail
Cornell University Press, 2003 - History - 227 pages
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In medieval Europe, the word fama denoted both talk (what was commonly said about a person or event) and an individual's ensuing reputation (one's fama). Although talk by others was no doubt often feared, it was also valued and even cultivated as a vehicle for shaping one's status. People had to think about how to "manage" their fama, which played an essential role in the medieval culture of appearances.At the same time, however, institutions such as law courts and the church, alarmed by the power of talk, sought increasingly to regulate it. Christian moral discourse, literary and visual representation, juristic manuals, and court records reflected concern about talk. This book's authors consider how talk was created and entered into memory. They address such topics as fama's relation to secular law and the preoccupations of the church, its impact on women's lives, and its capacity to shape the concept of literary authorship.
 

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Contents

Fama and the Law in TwelfthCentury Tuscany
15
Fama as a Legal Status in Renaissance Florence
27
Silent Witnesses Absent Women and
47
Good Name Reputation and Notoriety
75
Infamy and Proof in Medieval Spain
95
Fama and Memory
118
Sin Speech and Scolding in Late Medieval England
145
Fama in the Middle English
165
Conclusion
210
Index
223
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About the author (2003)

Daniel Lord Smail is Professor of History at Harvard University.

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