The concept of the vernacular is seen as possessing a value far beyond the category of language - as encompassing popular beliefs and practices which could either confirm or contest those authorized by church and state institutions. Minnis addresses the crisis for vernacular translation precipitated by the Lollard heresy; the minimal engagement with Nominalism in late fourteenth-century poetry; Langland’s views on indulgences; the heretical theology of Walter Brut; Margery Kempe’s self-promoting biblical exegesis; and Chaucer’s tales of suspicious saints and risible relics. These discussions disclose different aspects of ‘vernacularity’, enabling a fuller understanding of its complexity and potency.
• Highly-respected scholar’s new contribution to an important area of Medieval studies
• Offers a fuller, richer understanding of the concept of ‘the vernacular’ in Medieval literature
• Gives insight into the complex relationship between élite and popular culture in the Medieval period
Introduction; 1. Absent glosses: the trouble with Middle English hermeneutics; 2. Looking for a sign: the quest for Nominalism in Ricardian poetry; 3. Piers' protean pardon: Langland on the letter and spirit of indulgences; 4. Making bodies: confection and conception in Walter Brut's vernacular theology; 5. Spiritualizing marriage: Margery Kempe's allegories of female authority; 6. Chaucer and the relics of vernacular religion.