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Transforming Talk: The Problem with Gossip in Late Medieval England [Library Binding]

Susan E. Phillips

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Book Description

March 12, 2007 0271029943 978-0271029948

In recent decades, scholars have shown an increasing interest in gossip’s social, psychological, and literary functions. The first book-length study of medieval gossip, Transforming Talk shifts the current debate and argues that gossip functions primarily as a transformative discourse, influencing not only social interactions but also literary and religious practices. Known as “jangling” in Middle English, gossip was believed to corrupt parishioners, disturb the peace, and cause civil and spiritual unrest. But gossip was also a productive cultural force; it reconfigured pastoral practice, catalyzed narrative experimentation, and restructured social and familial relationships.

Transforming Talk will appeal to a diverse audience, including scholars interested in late medieval culture, religion, and society; Chaucer; and women in the Middle Ages.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Transforming Talk is impressive both in what it accomplishes and what it manages to avoid. A topic like gossip might unwisely tempt a writer into pop or pretentious theoretical cliches, but instead Phillips has produced a study that is clearly written, well documented, solidly argued, and, above all, original in general concept and its specific readings. With confidence and subtlety, Phillips deals with a wide range of late medieval writing, from obscure works to Chaucerian masterpieces, exploring not only gossip's transgressions but also, and especially, its protean abilities to generate new and surprising narratives. --C. David Benson, University of Connecticut

This is an extremely well-researched book, and the numerous helpful bibliographic and discursive footnotes are evidence of an astute scholarly mind. --A.L. Kaufman, Choice

Susan Phillips has done us a great service in writing this book about medieval gossip, for not only does she extend the premises mentioned above with theoretical, historical, and literary support, and in clear and intelligent prose, but she also focuses her exploration at the site of the beginnings of what we recognize as English, the early modern world of late Middle English, the language of Chaucer, Manning, and Dunbar, the world of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. --John Michael Crafton, Christianity and Literature

This is an extremely well-researched book, and the numerous helpful bibliographic and discursive footnotes are evidence of an astute scholarly mind. --A.L. Kaufman, Choice

Susan Phillips has done us a great service in writing this book about medieval gossip, for not only does she extend the premises mentioned above with theoretical, historical, and literary support, and in clear and intelligent prose, but she also focuses her exploration at the site of the beginnings of what we recognize as English, the early modern world of late Middle English, the language of Chaucer, Manning, and Dunbar, the world of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. --John Michael Crafton, Christianity and Literature

About the Author

Susan E. Phillips is Associate Professor of English at Northwestern University.


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