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Middle English Mouths
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Book description

The mouth, responsible for both physical and spiritual functions - eating, drinking, breathing, praying and confessing - was of immediate importance to medieval thinking about the nature of the human being. Where scholars have traditionally focused on the mouth's grotesque excesses, Katie L. Walter argues for the recuperation of its material 'everyday' aspect. Walter's original study draws on two rich archives: one comprising Middle English theology (Langland, Julian of Norwich, Lydgate, Chaucer) and pastoral writings; the other broadly medical and surgical, including learned encyclopaedias and vernacular translations and treatises. Challenging several critical orthodoxies about the centrality of sight, the hierarchy of the senses and the separation of religious from medical discourses, the book reveals the centrality of the mouth, taste and touch to human modes of knowing and to Christian identity.

Reviews

'A genuinely interdisciplinary achievement, Middle English Mouths will be of great value equally to literary scholars interested especially in Langland’s Piers Plowman, scholars of medieval medicine and science (including multisenoriality), Christianity and soteriology, speech and song, vernacular theology and intellectual history.'

Sarah Star Source: Medium Ævum

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Contents

  • Chapter 5 - Surgical Habits
    pp 144-172

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