Monks & Nuns, Saints & Outcasts: Religion in Medieval Society : Essays in Honor of Lester K. Little

Monks & Nuns, Saints & Outcasts: Religion in Medieval Society : Essays in Honor of Lester K. Little

Monks & Nuns, Saints & Outcasts: Religion in Medieval Society : Essays in Honor of Lester K. Little

Monks & Nuns, Saints & Outcasts: Religion in Medieval Society : Essays in Honor of Lester K. Little

Synopsis

A new generation of historians today is borrowing from cultural anthropology, post-modern critical theory, and gender studies to understand the social meanings of medieval religious movements, practices, figures, and cults. In this volume Sharon Farmer and Barbara H. Rosenwein bring together essays-all hitherto unpublished-that combine some of the best of these new approaches with rigorous research and traditional scholarship. Some of these essays re-envision the professionals of religion: the monks and nuns who carried out crucial social functions as mediators between living and dead, repositories for social memory, and loci of vicarious piety. In their religious life these people embodied an image of the society that produced them. Other contributions focus on social categories, usually expressed as dichotomies: male/female, insider/outsider, saint/outcast. Monks and Nuns, Saints and Outcasts is the first book to show the interaction of seemingly antithetical groups of medieval people and the ways in which they were defined by, as well as against, each other. All of the essays, taken together, form a tribute to Lester K. Little, pioneer in the study of religion in medieval society.

Excerpt

This collection of essays honors Lester K. Little on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday. Even without this preface, it would be hard for readers to miss how much of this book is inspired by Lester's writings on religious movements, on monastic cursing, and on the social meaning of disease. What might be less obvious is Lester's personal impact as a teacher, colleague, and correspondent. Many of the contributors, including the two editors, were once Lester's students. We were transfixed in his classes, not by anecdotes (though there were certainly some of those), but by the intensity, passion, high seriousness, and downright good humor that Lester brought to his subject. He was (he is) a connoisseur of the human condition and its vicissitudes. He was not exactly the Ancient Mariner, fixing us with his glittering eye—for one thing he was much too young, and still is. Yet we felt much the same immediate grip: we were about to hear the most important thing in the world. “Listen to this!” It's doubtful that he ever said that; but that's what we heard as Lester launched into the history of the pilgrimage to Santiago or unraveled a knotty text by St. Anselm.

We were drawn into these classes as equals, not in expertise (of course) but in worth. Our ideas counted, and not just as “good student responses,” but as contributions to a common enterprise. We were creators of history: “Write it as if you’re going to publish it,” Lester told one of the editors as she started a paper. She did. And it was published.

These experiences were—must have been—magical. How else explain this largely undergraduate teacher producing so many Ph.D.'s? They . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.