Feeling Like Saints: Lollard Writings after Wyclif (Hardback)Fiona Somerset (author)
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"Lollard" is the name given to followers of John Wyclif, the English dissident theologian who was dismissed from Oxford University in 1381 for his arguments regarding the eucharist. A forceful and influential critic of the ecclesiastical status quo in the late fourteenth century, Wyclif's thought was condemned at the Council of Constance in 1415. While lollardy has attracted much attention in recent years, much of what we think we know about this English religious movement is based on records of heresy trials and anti-lollard chroniclers. In Feeling Like Saints, Fiona Somerset demonstrates that this approach has limitations. A better basis is the five hundred or so manuscript books from the period (1375-1530) containing materials translated, composed, or adapted by lollard writers themselves.These writings provide rich evidence for how lollard writers collaborated with one another and with their readers to produce a distinctive religious identity based around structures of feeling. Lollards wanted to feel like saints. From Wyclif they drew an extraordinarily rigorous ethic of mutual responsibility that disregarded both social status and personal risk. They recalled their commitment to this ethic by reading narratives of physical suffering and vindication, metaphorically martyring themselves by inviting scorn for their zeal, and enclosing themselves in the virtues rather than the religious cloister. Yet in many ways they were not that different from their contemporaries, especially those with similar impulses to exceptional holiness.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 624 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 25 mm
"Feeling Like Saints, [Fiona] Somerset's magnum opus on Lollard literature, displays her extensive knowledge of the subject and models a new approach to the literature that will be influential for a long time to come.... Feeling Like Saints is a pioneering book in Lollard studies and in the larger field of vernacular English literature. The vitality of any scholarly field depends upon the ability of its practitioners to find new objects, ask new questions, and develop new skills of analysis. Feeling Like Saints does all these things and more."-- Emily Steiner * Modern Philology *
"Sumerset presents her case in assured style, but is far from dogmatic, instead setting out her contentions in order to engage in a dialogue with her readers and inviting their responses. Her book is thus both stimulating and enjoyable and will doubtless lead to further lively and productive debate. It should therefore be read not just by those interested specifically in the lollards, or in heresy, but by any scholar seeking to understand the wider complexities and interactions between later medieval religious ideologies and practices."-- Katherine J. Lewis * Review of English Studies *
"Written accessibly with verve and forthrightness, Feeling Like Saints is an important book that paints a distinctive picture of Lollard culture and textuality. Somerset's intelligentand weighty treatment of her corpus of texts gives richness and subtlety to this picture, and in doing so provides a wealth of material and issues for future investigation."-- Ian Johnson * Speculum *
"Somerset's project thinks through the feelings lollard writers cultivated in order to compose themselves and their audiences. Unlike Bale, her argument focuses on the specifically textual rendering of a particular religious subjectivity....And, while lollard writers are not unique in their suggestion that a proper ordering of the emotions in accordance with a rational disposition of the will amounts to virtue, Somerset is masterful at showing how the feelings that lollard writers taught their audiences promoted a virtuous form of love that held this religious community together"-- Holly A. Crocker, University of South Carolina * Exemplaria *
"Fiona Somerset's book's importance in developing the medieval studies basis for its field, and that field's contribution to late-medieval religious and social history, is undoubted. The sheer wealth of sources which provide evidence of diverse lollard teachings on living a virtuous life, stories, saints, praying, and 'feeling,' revise previous assumptions about lollards and provide a more nuanced perspective than ever before. It is a significant piece of scholarship, looking at a wide range of manuscript sources and challenging the assumptions of the whole field of Lollard scholarship.... Whether or not Somerset is correct in her readings of sources she classifies as Lollard, her work will be one that future scholars have to 'answer' if they are going to look at any of these writings."
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