In pursuing how fourteenth-century English texts engage with philosophical, intellectual, and theological questions, the work of Denise N. Baker has powerfully shaped the field of medieval studies. This collection honors Baker’s legacy as a scholar and teacher by taking a fresh approach to the most salient literary, mystical, and devotional works written in late medieval England. The contributors examine a variety of foundational texts ranging from Piers Plowman and The Canterbury Tales to The Cloud of Unknowing and Julian of Norwich’s Showings. Their analyses offer new insights into medieval literature and culture by examining the intricacies of vice and virtue, the connections between gender and literary form, and the ethical potential of social formations. Additionally, the volume attests to the wider influence of fourteenth-century literature. Not only do the contributors explore how medieval writers make their own claims of memorialization, but they also analyze later iterations of Middle English writing in the context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century print culture. Featuring chapters by both early scholars and those at the later stages of their careers, this volume celebrates the impact of Baker’s scholarship over the past four decades. At the same time, this book offers an incisive inquiry into many of the most debated issues and texts in studies of late medieval England.
Amy N. Vines is associate professor of English at University of North Carolina Greensboro.
Lee Templeton is associate professor of English at North Carolina Wesleyan University.
IntroductionAmy N. Vines
List of Denise N. Baker’s Publications
Chapter 1“‘What is Synne?’: Exploring Julian of Norwich’s Question”
Chapter 2“The Coveting of ‘Muche’ Instead of ‘Measure’: The Connection between Lady Mede and Nede in the C-Text of Piers Plowman”
Jessica D. Ward
Chapter 3“The ‘Stalke’ and the ‘Balke’: Cherry Picking the Ethics of Reproof in The Canterbury Tales”
Chapter 4“From ‘Pore Pacient’ to ‘Childische Thyng’: Versions of the Life of Charity in Piers Plowman C.XV-XVII”
Chapter 5“Conceiving Community: Familial Trinitarian Analogies in Augustine, William Langland, and Julian Norwich”
Chapter 6“Julian of Norwich and the Cloud Author: How Could They Both be ‘Mystical Theologians’?”
Chapter 7“Beatrice of Nazareth and the Desire for Death”
Chapter 8“Julian of Norwich: Lives and Afterlives”
Nancy Bradley Warren
Chapter 9“‘Heere of myn house perpetuelly a cherche’: Imagining Perpetuity in Chaucer’s Second Nun’s Tale”
Chapter 10“Chaucer and John of Gaunt: Finding a Way to Break into History”
Over the past fifty years, Denise N. Baker has produced a stream of studies, books, and editions that have had a shaping influence on Middle English scholarship, especially through her transformative work on the fourteenth-century visionary theologian Julian of Norwich. New Directions in Medieval Mystical and Devotional Literature not only makes a fitting tribute to a beloved scholar and teacher; it constitutes a significant contribution to the field in its own right. The essays in this beautifully presented book will be essential reading for anyone interested in late-medieval vernacular theology and its reception, both in England and beyond.
In ten varied and useful essays gathered for this volume, former students and colleagues celebrate the life’s work of the wonderful Denise N. Baker, whose sensitive and incisive scholarship is always worth close attention. Ranging over many topics and with particular attention to the writings of Chaucer, Julian of Norwich, and William Langland, this book is a fitting tribute to a scholar whose clarity of thought continues to generate new directions for study, some of which are aptly pursued here in her honor.