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The Confessional Subject in Medieval Literature

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Jerry Root

The confessional practice that develops after the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 makes possible a new cultural and literary discourse of the self. This book explores the impact of confessional discourse on fourteenth-century European literature. The approach is interdisciplinary. The author studies examples of the «confessional» texts of Augustine and Abelard as well as the vernacular didactic literature on confession after 1215. This literature creates a new and more popular language of the self. The literary texts of Chaucer, Machaut, and Juan Ruiz clearly demonstrate the influence of a confessional «self» and use the language of confession to explore and construct the self as literary subject.