Introduction: Past Vernaculars: The Aesthetic and the Everyday

  • Katharine W. Jager
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This chapter considers the complex reception of different kinds of late medieval texts to argue for a renewed examination of the category of vernacularity itself. Examining the formal composition and popular reception of vernacular texts in late medieval and early modern culture, this chapter discusses the recent work exploring the aesthetic production of poetry, prose, and music. Jager offers a timely and appropriate intervention into the lay reception of medieval vernacular texts and the function of aesthetics within that reception, two subjects that have been critically under-examined despite the recent turn toward formalism within medieval studies. She posits that the popular, lay audience imagined by anonymous songs, carols, lyrics, lays, poems, and satires is one that often must be inferred by the careful, close reading of manuscript context and diction and that may also be inferred by the affective production of sound, echoed and performed within their bounds as a kind of sensory replication of the noise of an audience.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine W. Jager
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Houston-DowntownHoustonUSA

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