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Women and the Production of Religious Literature in the Vernacular 1300-1500

Women and the Production of Religious Literature in the Vernacular 1300-1500

By Katherine Gill

Creative Women in Medieval and Early Modern Italy: A Religious and Artistic Renaissance Matter, edited by E. Ann (Philadelphia, 1994)

Introduction: Preaching and vernacular religious literature constitute a key site of literary innovation in the late Middle Ages. Sermons, original compositions in volgare, and vernacular translations also represent the principal vehicles for the exchange of religious ideas and the expression of religious attitudes. Preaching and translating were complementary enterprises. Not only did preaching often consist of extemporaneous translation of Latin texts to a non-Latin-speaking audience, but the success of this mediation created an appetite and hence a market for religious literature. This demand prompted translations, often quite free, of Latin devotional classics and saints’ lives, texts that could then serve as matter for sermon composition or for private reading after the preacher’s voice fell silent.

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