Angels on the Edge of the World: Geography, Literature, and English Community, 1000-1534 (Paperback)
  • Angels on the Edge of the World: Geography, Literature, and English Community, 1000-1534 (Paperback)
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Angels on the Edge of the World: Geography, Literature, and English Community, 1000-1534 (Paperback)

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Paperback 208 Pages / Published: 15/06/2006
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"The various and contradictory signs of English otherworldliness offered medieval writers a remarkably elastic medium with which to construct national identity.... Above all, the wonderful aspects of geographic otherness made it possible for English writers to see their homeland as not only barbarously divided but also blessed and united. Even as they acknowledged England as a barbarous wasteland... or as a site of brutal disorder..., the English also imagined England as a holy wilderness or as a blessed isle."-from the Introduction

In a view that sweeps from the tenth century to the mid-sixteenth century, Kathy Lavezzo shows how the English people's concern with their island's relative isolation on the global map contributed to the emergence of a distinctive English national consciousness in which marginality came to be seen as a virtue. Lavezzo examines the many world maps and textual geographies produced by the English during these years. In a beautifully illustrated book, she argues that the English looked to the globe only to emphasize and, in time, to exalt their own exceptional geographic status.

The author charts this process by examining a series of wondrous maps and canonical texts. Demonstrating how medieval geographic notions conditioned English attitudes toward Rome, clarifying the complicated religious history leading up to Henry the Eighth's divorce and the Reformation, Angels on the Edge of the World straddles the subjects-and methods-of literature, history, and cultural geography. It will be of special interest to those readers who use cartography as a way to map cultural identities.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801473098
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 28 g
Dimensions: 254 x 178 x 13 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Angels on the Edge of the World is an exciting disquisition on the critical importance of geography to English identity in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Eloquent on why place matters, and precisely how it matters, this book is indispensable to an understanding of medieval England, and will be hugely influential for all future work of its kind." -- Geraldine Heng, Director of Medieval Studies, University of Texas at Austin, and author of Empire of Magic: Medieval Romance and the Politics of Cultural Fantasy
"In Angels on the Edge of the World, Kathy Lavezzo offers a fascinating and provocative account of the imaginative geography of England from Aelfric to Cardinal Wolsey. Drawing on recent developments in the history of cartography and postcolonial theory, Lavezzo explains how England in the Middle Ages managed to justify its position on the geographical margins of Christendom by producing some of the finest verbal and visual mappae-mundi of the period. A scholarly intervention within the field, Angels on the Edge of the World will have important ramifications for scholars working in both Medieval and Renaissance Studies." -- Jerry Brotton, Queen Mary, University of London, author of Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World
"In this ambitious new book Kathy Lavezzo explores what she calls the 'exaltation of the English world margin,' the strange embrace of the English of their own peripheral status. Analyzing half a millennia's worth of texts and maps, Lavezzo argues that a nascent kingdom found both self-empowerment and a justification for imperialism in its residence at the edge of the earth. Works by UElfric, Giraldus Cambrensis, Ranulf Higden, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Wolsey, and John Skelton are read alongside contemporary maps in a breathtakingly interdisciplinary tour of the British Middle Ages. Angels on the Edge of the World is the necessary starting point for future discussions of the early English nation. As lucid as it is compelling, it deserves to be read by every medievalist interested in rethinking the period from a postcolonial point of view." -- Jeffrey J. Cohen, George Washington University
"In this excellent consideration of medieval and early modern maps and literary works, Lavezzo explores the paradoxical power of marginality found in the representation of England as a simultaneously isolated and exceptional space.... Including numerous reproductions of medieval maps and drawing on the theoretical models proposed by new cultural geogrpahers, this study offers a theoretically rich, provocative analysis of maps and mapping in medieval and early modern Europe." -- Choice, March 2007
"Kathy Lavezzo's Angels on the Edge of the World begins a much-needed discussion of ways in which nations developed and depended on national self-conceptions before the age of print so central to Benedict Anderson's argument about the rise of the nation-state." -- Mary Baine Campbell, Brandeis University, author of Wonder and Science: Imagining Worlds in Early Modern Europe
"Surveying a theme in English self-identity over almost nine hundred years, Kathy Lavezzo argues that England's distance from the centers of civilization as they were understood in the Middle Ages resulted in both an anxiety about being on the margins and a sense of special status, expressed in a complex negotiation of its nearly colonial condition. Postcolonial theory has replaced the vocabulary of time that has dominated our thinking about nations with the vocabulary of space. Lavezzo's book reinserts questions of location, position, opposition, construction, nationhood, and coloniality to the Middle Ages. There are no other books like Angels on the Edge of the World in quality, scope, or innovation." -- John Ganim, University of California, Riverside

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