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The Virgin Mary in Late Medieval and Early Modern English Literature and Popular Culture


  • Author: Gary Waller, Purchase College, State University of New York
  • Date Published: September 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107407664

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About the Authors
  • This book was first published in 2011. The Virgin Mary was one of the most powerful images of the Middle Ages, central to people's experience of Christianity. During the Reformation, however, many images of the Virgin were destroyed, as Protestantism rejected the way the medieval Church over-valued and sexualized Mary. Although increasingly marginalized in Protestant thought and practice, her traces and surprising transformations continued to haunt early modern England. Combining historical analysis and contemporary theory, including issues raised by psychoanalysis and feminist theology, Gary Waller examines the literature, theology and popular culture associated with Mary in the transition between late medieval and early modern England. He contrasts a variety of pre-Reformation texts and events, including popular mariology, poetry, tales, drama, pilgrimage and the emerging 'New Learning', with later sixteenth-century ruins, songs, ballads, Petrarchan poetry, the works of Shakespeare and other texts where the Virgin's presence or influence, sometimes surprisingly, can be found.

    • Analyzes the different uses to which the image of Mary was put, pre- and post-Reformation
    • Draws on a variety of sources beyond literature: music, art, architecture, popular religion, pilgrimages
    • Examines both Catholic and Protestant texts in the context of religious and cultural conflict
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'There is much food for thought about the cultural presence of the Virgin, and about the emotions and desires involved in three crucial phases of [her] history: the glories and extravagances of late medieval veneration, the violence of Reformation destruction, and her persistence in vestigial or transmuted forms in the decades that followed.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107407664
    • length: 250 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. 1538 and after: the Virgin Mary in the century of iconoclasm
    Part I. The Virgin Mary in Late Medieval Culture to 1538:
    2. The sexualization of the Virgin in the late Middle Ages
    3. The Virgin's body in late medieval poetry, romance, and drama
    4. Walsingham or Falsingham, Woolpit or Foulpit? Marian shrines and pilgrimage before the Dissolution
    Part II. Fades, Traces: Transformations of the Virgin in Early Modern England:
    5. Fades: Elizabethan ruins, tunes, ballads, poems
    6. Traces: English Petrarchism and the veneration of the Virgin
    7. Traces: Shakespeare and the Virgin: All's Well That Ends Well, Pericles, and The Winter's Tale
    8. Multiple Madonnas: traces and transformations in the seventeenth century and beyond
    Works cited

  • Author

    Gary Waller, Purchase College, State University of New York

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