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Medieval Literature


Religion was important, dominance of one church in England ... reversal, incongruity, and /or parody in order to make a comment or criticism about the subject. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Medieval Literature

Medieval Literature!
  • 1066-1485
  • Medias- middle
  • Aevum- Age
  • (Latin)

Historical Background
  • England conquered by Normans
  • Battle of Hastings in 1066 (defeated King Harold)
  • William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy
  • Strong, orderly, central government
  • Martial law, seizure of property.
  • Doomsday Book (1086)
  • Only survey in medieval Europe
  • Record of social conditions.
  • Inventory of property
  • Listed landowners, claims of land
  • Taxes based on real property

Normans Northmen
  • French Influences
  • Nationalism emerges.
  • Nationalism a combination of both independence
    and patriotism.

Medieval Life
  • Religion was important, dominance of one church
    in England
  • Christendom- spiritual and cultural empire united
    all nations
  • Latin- common language in centers of learning
  • Gothic Cathedrals
  • Church controls money, land.

John Wycliffe
  • Translated the Bible in the 1380s
  • Denounced as a heretic (someone who hold
    unorthodox religious belief)
  • To make Bible accessible to common people,
    threatened authority of church.

William Caxton
  • Introduced printing press to England around 1476.
  • Printer, translator
  • Made decision to reproduce the English of London.
  • He and other printers began to standardize English

  • Feudal system- social system of medieval England
    and Europe
  • William owned land by right of conquest, he could
    deed land to vassals (dependent landholder in
    feudal society) by royal charter. No one owned
    land independently- all vassals of an overlord
    (rent-military service)
  • Fixed class positions. Middle class emerges later

  • Norman French- court, nobility
  • English- common people
  • Latin- Church, universities

Wool Industry
  • English wool of high quality
  • Changed economy- cottages became small mills
  • Cities grew, new class of merchants
  • Population doubled
  • Taxes paid in money from wages

  • Purpose to rescue Jerusalem from Turks
  • Advantages Exposed Britain to Arabic culture
    math, medicine.
  • Commercial intellectual world broadened
  • Encouraged CHIVALRY
  • Great Pilgrimages to shrines (Canterbury)

  • Norman (code of honor and courtly love)
  • Purpose to make knight devout and well-mannered
  • Concept of ideal- important to literature.

Types of Anglo-Norman Literature
  • Medieval Romance tales of chivalry and love.
    (courtesy. Honor, courage, service to women)
  • Ballads- tales sung by common people (in ale
    houses or homes) often about love.
  • Drama
  • Miracle plays based on Bible stories/guilds
  • Morality plays allegories, characters represent
    virtues or vices.

  • Hundred Years War 1337-1453 England in France
  • Wouldnt give up French territories
  • Longbows, then gunpowder changed warfare
  • Knights, castles, less effective

  • War of the Roses
  • Civil War 1455-1485
  • Houses of York (white), Lancaster (red)
  • Economic, social unrest
  • Henry VII united by marriage Tudor line
  • Ended middle ages

  • Foundations of English Freedoms
  • Common law one law for all
  • Law of primogeniture 1st born son has exclusive
    right to inherit fathers land, titles, estates.
  • Ordeals guilt in legal cases, completed tasks to
    become innocent (if successful), Forbidden by
    church, became trial by jury.
  • Magna Carta beginning of parliament, Great
    Charter representative government. Barons must
    consent to Kings action (ex. Taxes), trial by
    jury, habeas corpus 1215.
  • Judicial System reformed, trial by jury.

  • Oxford Cambridge 1100-1200
  • Wycliffe 1384 translated Bible
  • Caxton 1476- printing press
  • Roger Bacon- inductive reasoning science

  • Black death
  • One of series of plagues
  • Reduced population 30-50

Who was Chaucer?
  • Father of English fiction
  • Middle class
  • Page, soldier, courtier, diplomat, civil
    administrator, translator
  • Spoke Middle English

Biographical Criticism
  • Using information about an author's life and
    background to better understand and analyze their
    work. Examining the writer's life may shed light
    on his or her literature and the literature of
    the era. Here are some ways it can help you
    better examine a text

  • It helps the reader to understand elements the
    author uses in his work, such as words,
    allusions, themes, characters, etc.
  • The author's background often adds significance
    to the written work.
  • It could help the reader to discover the author's
    audience and intention.

  • It is important to remember that you shouldnt
    always assume that the author's life is
    necessarily the same as the work's contents.
    Avoid using unsound sources of information about
    the author's life.

How might a biographical critic look at the
Canterbury Tales?
  • What influence did Chaucers personal life have
    on the text?
  • What about his personal experiences?
  • His occupation or social status?

Frame Story
  • a literary work that ridicules its subject
    through the use of techniques such as
    exaggeration, reversal, incongruity, and /or
    parody in order to make a comment or criticism
    about the subject.
  • Hold up the vices of individuals, groups,
    institutions, or humanity in general.
  • Humor often used to convey moral messages in an
    entertaining way.

  • Chaucer knew what people were and what they were
    supposed to be. But her recognized that life is
    not a simple matter of black or white, right or
    wrong. He recognized pilgrims as they were
  • Chaucer does not force his readers to make
    judgements on characters by highlighting certain
    aspects and ignoring other (obvious?) aspects
    (ex. The prioress/nun)

  • The attempt in literature and art to represent
    life as it really is, without sentimentalizing or
    idealizing it. Everyday life, ordinary people.

  • The relationship between a writer and the
    audience and/or the subject
  • Word choice conveys attitude/relationship
  • Tone can be formal/informal, close/distant

Tone words!
  • Detached
  • Mocking
  • Objective
  • Complimentary
  • Condescending
  • Contemptuous
  • Sarcastic
  • irrelevant
  • Benevolent
  • Candid
  • Ironic
  • Patronizing
  • Sympathetic
  • Admiring
  • Amused
  • playful

Can you guess with which character Chaucer uses
these particular tone words?