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Medieval Poetics and Social PracticeResponding to the Work of Penn R. Szittya$
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Seeta Chaganti

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823243242

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823243242.001.0001

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The Idea of Public Poetry in Lydgatean Religious Verse: Authority and the Common Voice in Devotional Literature

The Idea of Public Poetry in Lydgatean Religious Verse: Authority and the Common Voice in Devotional Literature

Chapter:
(p.95) The Idea of Public Poetry in Lydgatean Religious Verse: Authority and the Common Voice in Devotional Literature
Source:
Medieval Poetics and Social Practice
Author(s):

John T. Sebastian

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823243242.003.0006

John T. Sebastian conceives of social and religious communities through the articulation of “common voice.” Building on Anne Middleton's formulation that public poetry speaks in a common voice on behalf of a common good, Sebastian reminds us that public poetry provides an important site of interaction between medieval poetics and social practice. In “The Idea of Public Poetry in Lydgatean Religious Verse: Authority and the Common Voice in Devotional Literature,” Sebastian proposes to extend the category of public poetry by including within it John Lydgate's devotional verse. He argues that in the poems he examines, speaking voices are multiple and sustain complex relationships to their audience, and that these multivocal networks challenge hierarchies in order to claim “a truly common and public form of devotion.” Lydgate's linguistic and formal instabilities allow his poetic speaker to dismantle his own authority and thereby accommodate an ideal community of “common English citizens.” This vision exists in opposition to the fragmented and contentious theological landscape of Lydgate's time.

Keywords:   Voice, Common, citizen, Public, John Lydgate, Lyric, Devotional, Poetics, medieval

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