Medieval Sermon Studies since The Sermon: A Deepening and Broadening Field
By Anne T. Thayer
Medieval Sermon Studies, Volume 58, Number 1, 2014
Abstract: Since the publication of The Sermon in 2000, the field of medieval sermon studies has matured into a well-established and growing interdisciplinary area of medieval studies. This article seeks to illustrate how we are doing our work and where our interests are taking us.
Growing numbers of print and electronic resources facilitate locating, accessing, and interpreting texts and other historical sources pertinent to preaching. Via the preparation of carefully edited texts, the exploration of specific themes, and the illumination of particular preaching traditions, increased depth of understanding is being achieved. Sermonists use an expanding range of scholarly methodologies and pursue a broadening range of topics, here exemplified by memory and visual arts. Overarching much of our work is the desire to recover medieval experiences of what was fundamentally an oral and performative genre through its largely textual remains.
Introduction: In 1999, Phyllis B. Roberts published an essay, ‘Sermon Studies Scholarship: The Last Thirty-Five Years’, an important retrospective on the birth of sermon studies as a recognizable field within medieval studies, attracting interest for those in history, theology, and literature. She recognized that the soon to be published volume, The Sermon, in the series Typologie des Sources du Moyen Âge Occidental, was to be a significant moment for the field.
At that time, recognizing the fluidity of the genre and the range of meanings assigned to the word sermo, a central question in the field seemed to be: What is a sermon? The Sermon, an international collaborative effort edited by Beverly Mayne Kienzle, was published in 2000 and has come to serve as a touchstone for the field.