Kathleen M. Ashley (essay date 1987)
SOURCE: “Medieval Courtesy Literature and Dramatic Mirrors of Female Conduct,” in The Ideology of Conduct: Essays on Literature and the History of Sexuality, edited by Nancy Armstrong and Leonard Tennenhouse, pp. 25-38. New York: Methuen, 1987.
[In the following essay, Ashley explores how social conduct books for non-aristocrats influenced French and English drama in the late Middle Ages.]
As many historians have pointed out, the late Middle Ages was an era obsessed with codified and externalized behaviors. For aristocrats, such codes promised to maintain social identities at a time of blurring boundaries between upper and “middle” classes. However, the wealthy...
(The entire section is 5072 words.)