IMC 2004: Sessions

Session 323: Translation, Literacy, and Religious Narrative in Later Medieval England

Monday 12 July 2004, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Andrea E. Oliver, School of Literature & Creative Writing, University of East Anglia
Paper 323-aEnglish Translation in Verse and Prose: 14th-Century Versions of the Gospel of Nicodemus
(Language: English)
Jennifer Wong, Department of English, Washington University in St Louis
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Literacy and Orality, Rhetoric
Paper 323-bContentious Topics: Comparison between the English Wycliffite Sermons and the Glossed Gospels
(Language: English)
Marina Davidson, Independent Scholar, Chester, Nova Scotia
Index terms: Biblical Studies, Sermons and Preaching
Paper 323-cThe Crisis of Literacy in Piers Plowman
(Language: English)
Eric Shane Bryan, Department of English, Saint Louis University, Missouri
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English

session grouped by Catherine Batt (21/11/03):
Abstract paper -a:
Fourteenth-century England saw translation into verse and prose by major figures, such as Chaucer, but has also left a record of anonymous translation across the century. My paper will examine the English verse and prose versions of one particular text: the Gospel of Nicodemus. This text appears in a stanzaic version in four manuscripts, a couplet version in one manuscript, and a prose version in eleven manuscripts. My paper will compare the various methods of translation which can be seen in these texts, especially with regard to the different effects/implications of the uses of verse and prose.
Abstract paper -b:
The heretics known as Lollards produced two vernacular biblical commentaries: the English Wycliffite sermons and the Glossed Gospels. This paper focuses on the topics of prayer, confession, simony, the duty of priests and the role of secular lords, and compares the level of heterodoxy of each text. We show that, even if the heretical views are more restrained and less frequent in the Glossed Gospels, both texts would have been offensive to the authorities. We argue that the lack of harsh heretical exegesis may be one reason why the Glossed Gospels did not enjoy the popularity of the Sermons.
Abstract paper -c:
I analyze the crisis between literacy and illiteracy as represented in the pardon scene of Piers Plowman, where Langland sets to one side Piers and the illiterate laypersons and to the other, papal authority and literacy. I give precedence to material in the passus that has been previously viewed as secondary, such as narrative structure, social context, and religious implications of the events leading up to and following the pardon scene. The examination spans the three major texts of Piers Plowman, gaining insight into both the developing mind of Langland, himself, as well as the developing social mentality behind the fourteenth century cultural crisis of literacy.