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Title: Modalities of belief in the 'Long' Fifteenth century : rethinking English religious writing
Author: Calder, Natalie Claire
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 8886
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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Scholarship of fifteenth-century religious texts, until recently, perpetuated a binary perception of devotional culture. Emphasis on the importance of Lollardy in criticism of the past thirty years created a dichotomy in historiography between supposedly ‘orthodox’ and ‘heterodox’ texts: those which do not seem to fit the extreme ends of the spectrum were allocated a position in a homogeneous ‘grey area’ in which texts which patently refuse such identities must variously dwell. Given that religious writing of the Middle Ages remained primarily within the domain of the clergy, it is assumed that spiritual engagement was the reserve of the clerical elite, which was then passed down to a laity made up of ‘passive receptacles’, eagerly - and mutedly - awaiting instruction. Thus the capacity for late medieval texts to evince notions of unbelief within the laity has gone broadly unnoticed. Such a reduction in the complexity of medieval religion has created a problematic, two-dimensional construction of history, one which portrays an overly simplistic yiew of fifteenth-century spirituality in which lay unbelief has no place. Narratives of secularisation and periodisation have also limited scholars’ ability to investigate fully the nuances of lay belief. The notion of ‘modernity’ as constituting a secular, non-‘medieval’ concept has caused critics to read phenomena of the Middle Ages with the superficial comfort of hindsight. This is coupled with a rising interest in the historiography of atheism: observed as the key marker of a ‘modern’ age, scholarship in atheism traces its history from its Greek roots through the Enlightenment to the present, ‘post-secular’ day. Invariably, narratives of atheism contain a thousand-year-shaped gap in history as the Middle Ages are glossed over, too ‘religious’ to be significant. Unbelief is therefore presented as a post-medieval phenomenon. It seems that the time is ripe for rethinking English religious writing of the fifteenth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available