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Radical Nostalgia in the Age of «Piers Plowman»

Economics, Apocalypticism, and Discontent


Justine Rydzeski

A study of late medieval apocalyptic literature and culture, Radical Nostalgia in the Age of 'Piers Plowman': Economics, Apocalypticism, and Discontent examines the interdependence of economic and religious discourse and investigates the shift in social consciousness occasioned by demographic changes and the growth of the profit economy in fourteenth-century England. After exploring the growing dissonance between religious tradition and economic language, this study examines expressions of social discontent, including the actions and communications of the 1381 rebels, William Langland's moral objections in Piers Plowman, and the complaints central to the other «plowman poems» of Langland's imitators. This study argues that Langland and the 1381 rebels exhibit «radical nostalgia» - a longing for agrarian Christian roots that projects the traditional social structure of the past onto a renewed, if not millennial, society.