Social Conduct Literature Criticism: Prescriptive Ideology In Other Literary Forms - Essay

Kathleen M. Ashley (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

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.)

Rüdiger Schnell (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Discourse on Marriage in the Middle Ages,” in Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, Vol. 73, No. 3, July 1998, pp. 771-86.

[In the essay below, Schnell explores how marriage sermons shaped standards of conduct for men and women.]

Even when they address the same issues, different situations do not elicit the same kind of language use. Just as theological summas are not like sermons, and commentaries on the Books of Sentences are not like summas for confessors, medieval texts about marriage vary greatly according to the situations for which they were written. The function of each text and the purpose of its speaker or writer affect the...

(The entire section is 8960 words.)