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.