Reading Piers Plowman

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Cambridge University Press, May 9, 2013 - Literary Criticism - 266 pages
Reading "Piers Plowman" is an indispensable scholarly guide to a magnificent - and notoriously difficult - medieval poem. With Piers Plowman, the fourteenth-century poet William Langland proved that English verse could be at once spiritually electrifying and intellectually rigorous, capable of imagining society in its totality while at the same time exploring heady ideas about language, theology and culture. In her study of Piers Plowman, Emily Steiner explores how Langland's ambitious poetics emerged in dialogue with contemporary ideas; for example, about political counsel and gender, the ethics of poverty, secular and pagan learning, lordship and servitude, and the long history of Christianity. Lucid and comprehensive, Steiner's study teaches us to stay alert to the poem's stunning effects while still making sense of its literary and historical contexts.
 

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Contents

Community B 57
60
Learning B 812
96
Practice B 1315
140
Belief B 1618
172
Institutions B 1920 2 11
211
Notes
229
Bibliography
244
Index
262
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About the author (2013)

Emily Steiner is Associate Professor of English Literature and an award-winning teacher at the University of Pennsylvania. She is presently co-editor (with Rebecca Davis and Lawrence Warner) of the Yearbook of Langland Studies. She is the author of Documentary Culture and the Making of Medieval English Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

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