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Poetry Does Theology Chaucer, Grosseteste, and the Pearl-Poet cover
  • ISBN: 9780268038700
  • ISBN10: 0268038708

Poetry Does Theology Chaucer, Grosseteste, and the Pearl-Poet

by James Francis Rhodes

  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Univ of Notre Dame Pr
  • Publish date: 12/01/2001
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Description
What happens when poetry deals explicitly with a serious theological issue? In Poetry Does Theology, Jim Rhodes seeks one answer to that question by analyzing the symbiotic relationship that existed between theology and poetry in fourteenth-century England. He pays special attention to the narrative poems of Chaucer, Grosseteste, the Pearl-poet, the author of Saint Erkenwald, and Langland.

Rhodes shows that Chaucer and his contemporaries wrote at the end of a linguistic and theological revolution -- a time when revised perspectives on the creation and incarnation gave rise to a new humanistic spirit that transformed late medieval theological culture and spurred the development of vernacular theology and poetry. Rhodes' careful analysis describes how the relationship between theology and poetry underwent a radical transformation as the century progressed.

What had previously been the exclusive prerogative of a Latinate and clerical elite became in the later Middle Ages a matter of concern within vernacular culture, particularly the emerging category of "literature." This newly defined and self-conscious literature provided not simply an arena in which theological questions could be raised; it also privileged a secular, humanist outlook that granted to earthly life its own legitimacy and dignity.

In Poetry Does Theology, Rhodes argues that one of the distinctive qualities of modernity -- its secular and this-worldly orientation -- is a phenomenon that took root in England in the fourteenth century and found its primary site of development not in theological or philosophical circles, but in a vernacular literature that opened for inquiry the theological and philosophical questionsthat dominated the era.

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