The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary: Enshrinement, Inscription, Performance

Hardcover | September 15, 2008

bySeeta Chaganti

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Reliquaries, elaborate containers housing the remains of the holy dead, informed numerous aspects of medieval culture. Incorporated into religious ceremonies, they contributed to the voiced, world-creating work of performance. At the same time, their decoration often included inscription, silent and self-referential. In the reliquary, silent inscription and spoken performance enshrined one another to produce a visual language about representation. Using texts by Chaucer, along with anonymous plays, lyrics, and hagiographic verse, The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary shows how the reliquary’s visual language explicated the representational processes of late-medieval English poetry.

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Reliquaries, elaborate containers housing the remains of the holy dead, informed numerous aspects of medieval culture. Incorporated into religious ceremonies, they contributed to the voiced, world-creating work of performance. At the same time, their decoration often included inscription, silent and self-referential. In the reliquary, ...

Seeta Chaganti is an Associate Professor of English Literature, University of California, Davis.

other books by Seeta Chaganti

Format:HardcoverDimensions:268 pages, 8.4 × 5.67 × 0.76 inPublished:September 15, 2008Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230604668

ISBN - 13:9780230604667

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“The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary is stimulating and provocative, full of insightful analyses of material culture and literary artifacts of the late Middle Ages in England; it will certainly be assigned reading in my graduate seminar next spring.”--Speculum"Her work is crucial to thinking about how reliquaries and material culture in general shape poetic practice; and given the ubiquity of relics in late medieval religious culture and practice, such a study is long overdue."--Robyn Malo, The Medieval Review“This is an ambitious foray into far-reaching territory that offers provocative new angles on medieval literary works.”—Elizabeth Robertson, Professor of English, University of Colorado at Boulder “Chaganti offers us a new way to understand how material culture informed medieval poetics. Her approach yields fresh and insightful readings of key texts….[and] will be of interest to a wide range of readers, not only specialists in Middle English literature and drama, but all who are concerned with theories of poetry and the relationship between material objects and literary meaning.”—Cathy Sanok, Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan “Chaganti’s book is methodologically innovative, in that it is one of the first major explorations of the relation between material culture and literature in the field. Her study of the reliquary, a common but magical object in medieval culture, opens a new window on some central aspects of medieval culture.”—John M. Ganim, Professor of English, University of California, Riverside and author of Medievalism and Orientalism“Chaganti’s provocative new book makes an important contribution to the ongoing discussion about what visual art can tell us about medieval literature. Drawing on the material culture of the reliquary to illuminate texts ranging from St. Erkenwald to Pearl, and from Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess to the Marian plays of the N-Town cycle, Chaganti describes a wide-ranging ‘poetics of enshrinement’ that oscillates between inscription and performance. This book moves beyond mere analogy to offer a new way of thinking about the important relationships between medieval texts and material culture.”—Jessica Brantley, Associate Professor, Yale University"There is no question that, for far too long, literary scholars in particular have passed over reliquaries, which, as Chaganti suggests, have a good deal in common with poetic composition.  Indeed, the major and crucial intervention of this book is to remind the reader that reliquaries functioned poetically.  Changanti's study is at its best in its use of theory to explore poetic form and in some of its deft and insightful close readings and case studies...The book offers a model for imagining what the reationship between material and literary culture might have been."  --Robyn Malo, Purdue University"The Medieval Poetics of the Reliquary is stimulating and provocative, full of insightful analyses of material culture and literary artifacts of the late Middle Ages in England; it will certainly be assigned reading in my graduate seminar next spring"--Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Speculum