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Title: Shearing the Shepherds: Violence and Anticlerical Satire in Langland’s Piers Plowman
Authors: Parsons, Ben
First Published: 2010
Publisher: Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature
Citation: Medium Aevum, 2010, 79 (2), pp. 218-235
Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between anticlerical satire and violence in Piers Plowman. It identifies a clear reluctance to involve aggression in complaints against the church: despite the prevalence of images of assault and injury in the poem, these are never extended to the priesthood, even though physical attack is often central in other medieval works satirising the clergy. The implications of this aversion are considered, both in terms of Langland’s stance as a satirist, and in terms of his conception of the church and its role in society. It is suggested that Langland’s hesitance at once marks the limits of his satire and underscores its radicalism, indicating dissatisfaction with mere localised attack; it is also argued that Langland’s separation of the church from violence might imply a stronger commitment to peace-making than many recent critics have allowed.
ISSN: 0025-8385
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: © 2010, Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature. Archived with permission of the publisher.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of English

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