Lewd Imaginings: Pedagogy, Piety, and Peformance in Late Medieval East Anglia
Sebastian, John Thomas
PhD Dissertation, Cornell University, August (2004)
This dissertation explores clerical and lay desires for spiritual teaching and learning at the end of the Middle Ages in England, desires that, while ostensibly contemplative, carried crucial ecclesiological, political, and literary implications. Where these desires met stood the image of the unlearned lay person. This image has a history of its own; tracing it reveals many of the discourses and identities structuring late medieval society. The iconic lay person was a creature of imagination, feeling, and desire, not desire for theological proposition and dispute, but for a palpable relationship to God. Addressing that desire led in late medieval England to an astonishing increase in clerical awareness of the laity’s spiritual needs and clerical activism in addressing those.