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Tradition and Belief

Religious Writing in Late Anglo-Saxon England

1999
Author:

Clare A. Lees

Tradition and Belief

Looks at early religious texts and their influence on medieval literature and culture.

In this major study of Anglo-Saxon religious texts-sermons, homilies, and saints’ lives written in Old English-Clare A. Lees reveals how the invention of preaching transformed the early medieval church, and thus the culture of medieval England. By placing Anglo-Saxon prose within a social matrix, her work offers a new way of seeing medieval literature through the lens of culture. By concentrating on the theoretically problematic areas of history, religious belief, and aesthetics-the book contributes to debates about the evolving meaning of culture.

…this is a rich, absorbing, and challenging book. Tradition and Belief should be compulsory reading for all those interested in the late Anglo-Saxon period; it is to be hoped that Lees’s wish for a wide audience, especially among students of culture, will also come to fruition … Perhaps this book will even succeed in putting Anglo-Saxon on the map in cultural studies.

Mary Clayton, Journal of English and Germanic Philology

Looks at early religious texts and their influence on medieval literature and culture.

In this major study of Anglo-Saxon religious texts-sermons, homilies, and saints’ lives written in Old English-Clare A. Lees reveals how the invention of preaching transformed the early medieval church, and thus the culture of medieval England. By placing Anglo-Saxon prose within a social matrix, her work offers a new way of seeing medieval literature through the lens of culture.

To show how the preaching mission of the later Anglo-Saxon church was constructed and received, Lees explores the emergence of preaching from the traditional structures of the early medieval church-its institutional knowledge, genres, and beliefs. Understood as a powerful rhetorical, social, and epistemological process, preaching is shown to have helped define the sociocultural concerns specific to late Anglo-Saxon England.

The first detailed study of traditionality in medieval culture, Tradition and Belief is also a case study of one cultural phenomenon from the past. As such-and by concentrating on the theoretically problematic areas of history, religious belief, and aesthetics-the book contributes to debates about the evolving meaning of culture.

ISBN 0-8166-3002-X Cloth £34.50 $49.95xx
ISBN 0-8166-3003-8 Paper £14.00 $19.95x
232 Pages 5 7/8 x 9 November
Medieval Cultures Series, volume 19
Translation inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

Tradition and Belief

Clare A. Lees is associate professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Oregon and the editor of Medieval Masculinities (Minnesota, 1994).

Tradition and Belief

…this is a rich, absorbing, and challenging book. Tradition and Belief should be compulsory reading for all those interested in the late Anglo-Saxon period; it is to be hoped that Lees’s wish for a wide audience, especially among students of culture, will also come to fruition … Perhaps this book will even succeed in putting Anglo-Saxon on the map in cultural studies.

Mary Clayton, Journal of English and Germanic Philology

Tradition and Belief

Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Culture and Belief

1. Tradition, Literature, History
2. Aesthetics and Belief: Ælfric’s False Gods
3. Conventions of Time in the Old English Homiletic Corpus
4. Didacticism and the Christian Community: The Teachers and the Taught
5. Chastity and Charity: Ælfric, Women, and the Female Saints

Conclusion

Notes
Works Cited

Index