Transforming Talk: The Problem With Gossip In Late Medieval England

Paperback | August 24, 2012

bySusan E. Phillips

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In recent decades, scholars have shown an increasing interest in gossip’s social, psychological, and literary functions. The first book-length study of medieval gossip, Transforming Talk shifts the current debate and argues that gossip functions primarily as a transformative discourse, influencing not only social interactions but also literary and religious practices. Known as “jangling” in Middle English, gossip was believed to corrupt parishioners, disturb the peace, and cause civil and spiritual unrest. But gossip was also a productive cultural force; it reconfigured pastoral practice, catalyzed narrative experimentation, and restructured social and familial relationships.

Transforming Talk will appeal to a diverse audience, including scholars interested in late medieval culture, religion, and society; Chaucer; and women in the Middle Ages.

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In recent decades, scholars have shown an increasing interest in gossip’s social, psychological, and literary functions. The first book-length study of medieval gossip, Transforming Talk shifts the current debate and argues that gossip functions primarily as a transformative discourse, influencing not only social interactions but also ...

Susan E. Phillips is Associate Professor of English at Northwestern University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.57 inPublished:August 24, 2012Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271029951

ISBN - 13:9780271029955

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. “Janglynge in cherche”: Pastoral Practice and Idle Talk

2. Chaucerian Small Talk

3. “Sisteris in schrift”: Gossip’s Confessional Kinship

4. The Gospel According to Gossips, or How Gossip Got Its Name

Conclusion

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Even if one is not convinced by the larger argument for the transformative capacity of idle talk, this study is filled with fresh, provocative readings that demonstrate the value of taking idle speech seriously.”

—Karla Taylor, Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies