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Medieval Literature and Historical Enquiry

Derek Pearsall
The Modern Language Review
Vol. 99, No. 4 (Oct., 2004), pp. xxxi-xlii
DOI: 10.2307/3738608
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3738608
Page Count: 12
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Medieval Literature and Historical Enquiry
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Abstract

Answering the criticism that the study of medieval literature has been appropriated to history, partly through the influence of Centres for Medieval Studies, this paper examines the history of historicism, including New Historicism, in medieval literary studies and finds that it has contributed to important advances in the understanding of the literature of the past. The greater threat to the study of literature as literature is posed by politically driven interpretation, based on modern agendas to do with class, gender, and race. The paper ends with a reaffirmation and demonstration, from the work of Chaucer, of the intrinsic and transhistorical significance of poetry.

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