Vernacular Makynge, Jack Upland, and the Aesthetics of Antifraternalism

  • Noëlle Phillips
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Late medieval English polemical poetic and prose texts, particularly those affiliated with Lollardy, have long been judged as aesthetically unappealing even as they are acknowledged to be historically, politically, and socially illuminating. They are important documents, but not beautiful literature. This chapter considers how we might understand these texts as emerging from an aesthetic tradition that turns away from tradition Aristotelian models of artistic beauty and toward a model of vernacular aesthetics. Through a review of English poetic precedent, this chapter argues that the notion of vernacular makynge offers an alternate way to understand the aesthetic patterns of one particular group of late medieval polemical texts: the fifteenth-century Jack Upland series. The chapter’s analysis of Jack Upland, Friar Daw’s Reply, and Upland’s Rejoinder explores how the features of makynge—performance, process, transformation—actually align with Lollard beliefs about artistic skill and open up our understanding of these texts whose literary value continues to be overlooked.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noëlle Phillips
    • 1
  1. 1.Douglas CollegeVancouverCanada

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