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John Lydgate and Medieval Literary Culture in East Anglia

John Lydgate: The finding of the head of King Edmund (British Library)

with Dr Rebecca Pinner

at the Old Court, Sutton Hoo (map)
on Saturday, 6th October 2012

As Norwich is awarded the acclaim of UNESCO City of Literature this is a timely moment to look at the medieval literature of East Anglia. The emphasis of the day is on John Lydgate, monk of Bury St Edmunds, who wrote more in the English language than any other poet before or since, as well as exploring what writers outside our region thought about Norfolk and Suffolk.
Each session will be accompanied by illustrations and extracts from a range of texts in both their original language and modern translation. No previous experience of medieval literature is required.

Provisional Programme
(There may be variations to the programme on the day – all these subjects will be covered, but not necessarily in the advertised order.)
  10.00 Coffee on arrival  
  10.15 What is medieval East Anglian Literature? – an introduction to the literature of the period and its key authors, discussed in relation to a range of examples from a variety of texts.  
  11.15 Coffee  
  11.45 Who was John Lydgate? – an introduction to the life and works of one of the most prolific authors in English literary history.  
  12.45 Lunch break  
  14:00 John Lydgate’s Lives of Saints Edmund and Fremund: the poem – we will start to explore this epic poem about our regional patron and one of the super-saints of medieval England, considering why it was written and for whom.  
  15:00 Tea break  
  15:15 John Lydgate’s Lives of Saints Edmund and Fremund: the illustrations – one of the manuscripts in which Lydgate’s poem survives contains some of the most beautiful illustrations ever produced in our region. We will explore some of these pictures and what they tell us about medieval culture and identity.  
  16:15 Close  

About Dr Rebecca Pinner

Rebecca Pinner was awarded a BA (Hons) in English Literature from the School of English and American Studies at UEA in 2002, an MA in Interdisciplinary Medieval Studies from the same department in 2003 and a doctorate in 2010, for which she was co-supervised between the Schools of Literature and World Art Studies, UEA.
Her primary research interests concern the relationship between literature, context and culture, the construction and dissemination of individual and collective identities and relationships between literature and other cultural artefacts.
Her doctoral thesis explores the social and political construction of sanctity with reference to the cult of St Edmund, king and martyr, in medieval East Anglia. It is an interdisciplinary project that utilises sources and approaches from a variety of disciplines (principally literature and art history, but also social history and anthropology) in order to develop a new methodology for the investigation of the cult of saints.
She teaches in the School of Literature at UEA as well as for local adult education providers and is the co-founder and organiser of UEA’s Medieval Discussion Group.

Some suggestions for further reading
(useful but not essential)

Bale, A., ed., St Edmund, King and Martyr: Changing Images of a Medieval Saint (Woodbridge: York Medieval Press, 2009)
Beer, Peter J. A., Turning of Keys: Poets and Norfolk, 1460-1991 (Dereham: Larks Press, 2003)
Cranbrook, The Earl of, ed., Parnassian Molehill: An Anthology of Suffolk Verse Written between 1327 and 1864 (Aldeburgh: The Aldeburgh Bookshop, 2001)
Gibson, G. M., The Theatre of Devotion: East Anglian Drama and Society in the Late Middle Ages (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1989)
Harper Bill, C., ed., Medieval East Anglia (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2005)
Hennessy, M. V., ed., Tributes to Kathleen L.Scott : English Medieval Manuscripts: Readers, Makers and Illuminators (London: Harvey Miller, 2009)
Lydgate, J., The Lives of Sts Edmund and Fremund, ed., Anthony Bale & A.S.G. Edwards (2009) – this is the text of the poem.
Lydgate, J., The Life of St Edmund, King and Martyr: John Lydgate’s Illustrated Verse Life: A Facsimile, ed. A.S.G. Edwards (London: British Library, 2004) – this is a full colour facsimile of the illuminated manuscript – you can also see a selection of the images online (scroll down the page to see the pictures) http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=6643&CollID=8&
Nolan, M., John Lydgate and the Making of Public Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)
Page, J., ‘Is there an East Anglian Literature?’ http://www.newwriting.net/writing/non-fiction/%e2%80%98is-there-an-east-anglian-literature%e2%80%99/
Pearsall, D. John Lydgate (1371-1449): A Bio-bibliography (Victoria, B.C.: English Literary Studies, University of Victoria, 1997)
Salih, S., ed., A Companion to Middle English Hagiography (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2006)
Scalon, L. & J. Simpson, eds., John Lydgate: Poetry, Culture and Lancastrian England (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005)
Some Potentially Useful Websites
The Writers Centre, Norwich - http://www.writerscentrenorwich.org.uk/theliterarysalon.aspx
Literary Norfolk - http://www.literarynorfolk.co.uk/index.htm
Literary Suffolk - http://www.literarysuffolk.paperviewer.co.uk/


Please phone or email to check the availability of places. Study Days are 38 per person, which includes a full day of lectures, access to the NT site, parking, coffee and tea throughout the day, and access to the NT exhibition. Once you have reserved your place please send a cheque to confirm the booking. For your first booking please complete the application form to ensure that we have recorded your contact details correctly.

Wuffing Education,
4 Hilly Fields,
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 4DX
tel : 01394 386498

Email cliff AT wuffingeducation.co.uk
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Website www.wuffingeducation.co.uk

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