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21 October 2021 - 21 October 2021
1:00PM - 2:30PM
A medieval research seminar. Email email@example.com for the Zoom logon.
Piers Plowman is the product of specific social and economic changes, and is unimaginable outside them. Yet key issues with which it deals centrally and directly affect us - just as centrally and directly - in our own lives; no poem in English has more to say about regimes of inequality. This talk is called ‘Piers Plowman Out of Time’ because it aims to bring the poem into dialogue with its posterity and to suggest why it matters to modern readers to read it. The talk focuses on labour: the extent to which our lives are defined or deformed by work or its absence. Its mode is a re-enactment of medieval reading practice as evidenced in Piers Plowman itself, the treating of antecedent texts as contemporaries by putting them in play with what concerns us now. The talk will therefore offer a reading of C Passus V-IX (confession, plowing and pardon) and put it in dialogue with works by Chekhov and Olga Ravn. A warm invitation is extended, as well as to specialists, to non-medievalists – without whom the conversation, and the work, would not be complete.
Professor of English at Durham University and retiring Professor of English at Washington University in St Louis
David Lawton is a founding editor of New Medieval Literatures, has edited volumes of and on medieval poetry, and published monographs on the Bible, blasphemy, Chaucer’s narrators, and most recently voice and what he terms 'public interiorities' (in a book which, among other things, continues his writing on Piers Plowman in a comparative mode). His edition of Chaucer’s works, for Norton, was published in 2019.