Courtesy Books, Comedy, and the Merchant Masculinity

Courtesy Books, Comedy, and the Merchant Masculinity of Oxford Balliol College MS 354

Rogers, Janine

Medieval Forum Vol.1 (2002)


This article examines courtesy books and comic texts found in a well-known commonplace book, Oxford Balliol College MS 354 (Richard Hill’s book). I propose that the book as a whole may reflect ideologies of gender and class in the mercantile community of late medieval/early modern London, through which children (especially boys) may have obtained a social and moral education, transmitted in household books like Balliol 354. The article explores that didactic role of comic texts in the pedagogical process, suggesting that humorous material was not merely recreational in such miscellanies, but also educational.

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