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    Apostrophe, devotion, and anti-semitism: rhetorical community in the "Prioress’s Prologue and Tale"

    Fenn, Jessica (2013) Apostrophe, devotion, and anti-semitism: rhetorical community in the "Prioress’s Prologue and Tale". Studies in Philology 110 (3), pp. 432-458. ISSN 1543-0383.

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    In the Prioress’s Prologue and Tale, apostrophes appear as shared sayings, or short, formulaic phrases often repeated in written and oral contexts. The Prioress’s use of apostrophes to praise and blame resonates with widespread rhetorical understandings of this type of shared saying in late medieval England, as well as common uses of it. This shared rhetorical understanding saw apostrophes as a way to stir kindred feelings for or against an absent other in speakers and their listeners; in the Prioress’s Prologue and Tale, loving prayers to divine figures take the form of apostrophes and so do hostile addresses to Jews. In this way, the pairing of devotion and anti-Semitism in the Prioress’s speech appears as part of a wider rhetorical pattern in late medieval England and locates her and the chorister in her tale as part of a rhetorical community that shared these understandings. In depicting the spread of shared sayings beyond the walls of religious houses and universities and into articulation by less literate people, such as lay choristers, the tale imagines the potentially violent effects both of such speeches themselves and of the rhetorical communities that took shape around them.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2014 14:00
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:34


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