The Gift of Tongues: Womens Xenoglossia in the Later Middle Ages

Paperback | April 30, 2011

byChristine F. Cooper-Rompato

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Tales of xenoglossia—the instantaneous ability to read, to write, to speak, or to understand a foreign language—have long captivated audiences. Perhaps most popular in Christian religious literature, these stories celebrate the erasing of all linguistic differences and the creation of wider spiritual communities. The accounts of miraculous language acquisition that appeared in the Bible inspired similar accounts in the Middle Ages. Though medieval xenoglossic miracles have their origins in those biblical stories, the medieval narratives have more complex implications. In The Gift of Tongues, Christine Cooper-Rompato examines a wide range of sources to show that claims of miraculous language are much more important to medieval religious culture than previously recognized and are crucial to understanding late medieval English writers such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Margery Kempe.

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From the Publisher

Tales of xenoglossia—the instantaneous ability to read, to write, to speak, or to understand a foreign language—have long captivated audiences. Perhaps most popular in Christian religious literature, these stories celebrate the erasing of all linguistic differences and the creation of wider spiritual communities. The accounts of miracu...

Christine F. Cooper-Rompato is Assistant Professor of English at Utah State University.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.52 inPublished:April 30, 2011Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:027103615X

ISBN - 13:9780271036151

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. Miraculous Translations: Gifts of Vernacular Tongues in Later Medieval Vitae

2. Miraculous Literacies: Medieval Women’s Miraculous Experiences of Latin

3. “An Alien to Understand Her”: Miraculous and Mundane Translation in The Book of Margery Kempe

4. Women’s Miraculous Translation in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Conclusion

Selected Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Cooper-Rompato demonstrates the importance of xenoglossia in the saint's life and makes a solid case for its relevance to hybrid genres; readers interested in the formation of Kempe's and Chaucer's authorial subjectivities would find much of interest in the respective chapters.”

—Kevin R. West, Christianity and Literature