English Medieval Misericords

English Medieval Misericords

The Margins of Meaning

Paul Hardwick

A comprehensive survey of the intriguing misericord carvings, setting them in their religious context and looking at their different themes and motifs.
Misericord carvings present a fascinating corpus of medieval art which, in turn, complements our knowledge of life and belief in the late middle ages. Subjects range from the sacred to the profane and from the fantastic to the everyday, seemingly giving equal weight to the scatological and the spiritual alike. Focusing specifically on England - though with cognisance of broader European contexts - this volume offers an analysis of misericords in relation to other cultural artefacts of the period. Through a series of themed "case studies", the book places misericords firmly within the doctrinal and devotional milieu in which they were created and sited, arguing that even the apparently coarse images to be found beneath choir stalls are intimately linked to the devotional life of the medieval English Church. The analysis is complemented by a gazetteer of the most notable instances.

Dr Paul Hardwick is Professor in English, Leeds Trinity University College.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: What Lies Beneath
A Fair Field of Folk
Doctrine and Debate
Influence and Invention
Masculinity and Power
Exemplary Animals
The Monsters at the Margins
Conclusion: Looking Both Ways


Can be recommended to all with a serious interest in misericords. WORCESTERSHIRE RECORDER

An informative and entertaining book. CHURCH HISTORY

Presents a novel perspective on the potential religious symbolism of English medieval misericords. STUDIES IN ICONOGRAPHY

An intelligent and well-written book [and] a stimulating and useful addition to the literature. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

A unique and interesting analysis of that most fascinating of medieval church fixtures. [...] A well-researched, superbly written and certainly thought-provoking examination. ECCLESIOLOGY TODAY

A significant contribution to the study of medieval misericords, marginal arts, and popular iconography.THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

[Hardwick's] multivalent reading of misericords takes us from the literal to the anagogical and similarly transcends early twentieth-century writings on the subject. SIXTEENTH CENTURY JOURNAL An interesting study, one which will encourage its readers to peer more closely into the ecclesiastical gloom. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
A work of considerable scholarship. NORTHERN HISTORY
A welcome addition to the growing literature on medieval liturgical furnishings. THE ART NEWSPAPER
The great strength of the book is that it attempts to approach the images through the eyes of those who saw them and understood their meaning. [...] An interesting and important book. VIDIMUS

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