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The uncanny Reformation: Revenant texts and distorted time in Henrician England

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTextual Distortion
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
Pages130-149
ISBN (Electronic)9781787441538
ISBN (Print)9781843844792
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Publication series

NameEssays and Studies
PublisherThe English Association

Abstract

In this essay I look at a group of texts written in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, which were initially circulated in manuscript as contributions to the ‘Lollard’ debates about church wealth and clerical morality in that period. They were then printed in the early 1530s (and reprinted in the 1560s and 1570s) as contributions to similar debates a century and more later than their origin. These texts, Lollard writing re-presented for Reformation reading, offer an interesting case study of chronological and epistemological distortion, as they might be argued to distort conceptions of time and history around them both ‘positively’ and ‘negatively’ – if those terms have any meaning – but always powerfully and provocatively. The texts present challenges to our definitions of how they might be categorised, what they might suggest about the communities that produced and received them, and what they imply about our own sense of their relationship to time and the creation of historical narrative.

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