Impolitic Bodies: Poetry, Saints, and Society in Fifteenth-Century England : the Work of Osbern Bokenham

Impolitic Bodies: Poetry, Saints, and Society in Fifteenth-Century England : the Work of Osbern Bokenham

Impolitic Bodies: Poetry, Saints, and Society in Fifteenth-Century England : the Work of Osbern Bokenham

Impolitic Bodies: Poetry, Saints, and Society in Fifteenth-Century England : the Work of Osbern Bokenham

Synopsis

With Impolitic Bodies Delany breaks important ground in fifteenth century scholarship, a critical site of cultural study. Delany examines the work of English Augustinian friar Osbern Bokenham, never before written on at length, and fully explores the relations of history and literature in the particularly turbulent period in English history, beginning with "The Wars of the Roses" and during the "Hundred Years War." Delany examines the first collection of all female saints' lives in any language: Legends of Holy Women composed by Bokenham between 1443 and 1447. The book is organized around the image of the body --- a medieval procedure becoming popular once again in current attention to the social construction of the body. One emphasis is Bokenham's relation to the body of English literature, particularly Chaucer, the symbolic head of the fifteenth century. Another emphasis is a focus on the genre of saints' lives, particularly female saints' lives, with their striking use of the body of the saint to generate meaning. Finally, the image of the body politic, the controlling image of medieval political thought is here, and Bokenham's means to examine the political and dynastic crises of fifteenth-century England. Delany uses these three major concerns to explain the literary innovation of Bokenham's Legend, and the larger and political importance of that innovation.

Excerpt

More than with anything else I've written, I've been continuously aware, in the slow gestation of this book, of the help of others at every stage. the reason is partly that this Osbern Bokenham project was new terrain for me: saints' lives and fifteenth-century studies were unfamiliar areas when I began, and I was sure that both of them would be tedious. Discovering the opposite has been a pleasure, and I'm happy to acknowledge here the individuals and institutions that have aided in this discovery.

My discovery of Bokenham was serendipity, the offshoot of research on an earlier book about Chaucer's Legend of Good Women. the similarity of Boken ham 's title--Legends of Holy Women--to Chaucer's struck me as possibly significant for the early reception of Chaucer's work, and it proved to be so. At the start, when Bokenham was little more than a gleam in my eye (and an unwieldy paper on the Chaucer connection, presented at the University of Washington Medieval Seminar), Michael Curley of Tacoma Pacific University encouraged this novice in hagiographical studies with kind words and bibliographical references. a release-time stipend from Canada's sshrc (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) for the academic year 1987-88 enabled me to spend some months in Berkeley, California, researching and designing the project. At that point, the Bokenham material was meant to form one chapter of a work in progress, Galleries of Women, but it soon burgeoned indecently into two books of its own: this one and my translation of Bokenham's legendary, or set of saints' lives. the latter was published in 1992 as the inaugural volume in the University of Notre Dame Medieval Institute's new translation series--thanks to Ed Vasta of the University of Notre Dame for suggesting it--and was enabled by a renewed release-time stipend from the sshrc in 1989-90. For both projects, much appreciation goes to my undergraduate research assistants: Ken Christensen, Barry Reid, Arlene Cook, Karen Moe, and Roberta (Bobbi) Holt and to my graduate assistant, Derrick Higginbotham. I hope they developed some affection for Osborn, or at least came to understand mine.

At home and abroad I've benefited from the hospitality and the feedback of . . .

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.