Preacher, Sermon, and Audience in the Middle Ages

Preacher, Sermon, and Audience in the Middle Ages

Preacher, Sermon, and Audience in the Middle Ages

Preacher, Sermon, and Audience in the Middle Ages


Preacher, Sermon and Audience in the Middle Ages presents research by specialists of preaching history and literature. This volume fills some of the lacunae which exists in medieval sermon studies. The topics include: an analysis of how oral and written cultures meet in sermon literature, the function of vernacular sermons, an examination of the usefulness of non-sermon sources such as art in the study of preaching history, sermon genres, the significance of heretical preaching, audience composition and its influence on sermon content, and the use of rhetoric in sermon construction. The study looks at preaching history and literature from a wide geographical and chronological area which includes examples from Anglo-Saxon England to late medieval Italy. While doing so, it outlines the state of sermon studies research and points to new areas of investigation.


Carolyn Muessig

The most common question that scholars of medieval preaching are asked is “What is a sermon?” It is an excellent question, and like most excellent questions, it is difficult to answer. Since sermons come in many styles and genres there is no straightforward response. Moreover, scholars of preaching have always recognized sermons as a rich resource for what they indicate about medieval culture. Because sermons intersect with so many aspects of daily life they can be mined in a variety of ways for insights into medieval thought and practice. The diversity of the sermon genre and the richness of information which sermons hold are the focus of Preacher, Sermon and Audience in the Middle Ages.

The study examines the role of sermons and the function of preaching in western Europe between the tenth and fifteenth centuries. Some of the themes presented in this volume such as ”Preaching and Performance,” “Preaching and Art,” and “Preacher and Audience” have until now received little attention. This study establishes these themes as significant areas of research in the field of sermon studies. Moreover, it revisits more traditional themes such as “Rhetoric and Preaching” and “Sermons as an Historical Source” which hold abundant research opportunities.

See Beverly Mayne Kienzle, ed., The Sermon (Typologie des Sources du Moyen
Âge Occidental 81–83; Turnhout, 2000) for the most comprehensive answer to this

See Carolyn Muessig, “What is Medieval Monastic Preaching: An
Introduction,” in Medieval Monastic Preaching (Brill's Studies in Intellectual History 90, ed. Carolyn
Muessig; Leiden, 1998), pp. 3–16, at 3–5.

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