The essays in Living Dangerously, written by some of the leading scholars in the fields of history and literature, examine the lives of those who lived on the margins of medieval and early modern European society. While some essays explore obvious marginalized classes, such as criminals, gypsies, and prostitutes, others challenge traditional understandings of the margin by showing that female mystics, speculators in the Dutch mercantile empire, and writers of satire, for example, could fall into the margins. These essays reveal the symbiotic relationship that exists between the marginalized and the social establishment: the dominant culture needs its margins.
This well-written and lively collection covers a wide geographical area, including England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, and the Netherlands, making it an ideal resource for a broad range of courses in European history and literature.
“Living Dangerously: On the Margins in Medieval and Early Modern Europe is an engrossing, learned collection of articles by recognized historians and literary scholars. Drawing on legal, archival, and literary evidence, they introduce us to real characters—in both senses—who transgressed boundaries and norms. Whether the lines crossed are social, financial, sexual, or spiritual, we learn that those on the margins are central to our understanding of these eras.” —Marjorie Curry Woods, The University of Texas at Austin
“The essays in this volume take the reader on an intellectual voyage of adventure across space and time in pre-modern Europe, stopping off in Germany, the Low Countries, England, Spain, and France. They lucidly explore those messy, contradictory, and fascinating realms of life and thought (marriage, theology, commerce, gender, sexuality, law) where transgression and convention intersect. Thought-provoking. A must-read.” —Ann Marie Rasmussen, Duke University
“This collection breaks new ground in its attention to the marginalized and rascalous members of medieval and renaissance society. First, it rightly treats as permeable the artificial boundary between ‘medieval’ and ‘renaissance’ cultures, seeing them synoptically rather than independently. Second, it boldly incorporates as contiguous both European and New World cultures, seeing them as related rather than discontinuous. These interdisciplinary essays are first rate.” —Daniel T. Kline, University of Alaska Anchorage