Lydgate and London at Kalamazoo 2015
The session proposes to trace Lydgate's importance as a poet of the city. Within the space between social classes and their respective expectations, Lydgate's poetry traced the outline of London: the urban heart of England and the moral mirror of its people. Lydgate was not just a court poet, but a civic poet – a poet whose writings shaped the public sentiments of London's people, mediated between the desires of the aristocracy and the power of the citizenry, and, in doing so, articulated the experience of London life.
However, it is not only Lydgate's poetry itself that illuminates London life; it is also how he was read by others. We find his work compiled in many manuscripts that articulate the everyday experience of urban lay citizens, books in which Lydgate's poetry is accompanied by instructions on stain removal, lists of London churches and steeple heights, measures of land, and other such practical memoranda. Lydgate's poetry was meant to accompany statues in Westminster and adorn the armorers' hall. A deep connection between Lydgate and the city emerges in the face of these examples.
This session invites papers that explore this civic side of Lydgate, or Lydgate as a poet articulating a certain sense of place more generally. Paper topics might include:
• How Lydgate's poetry reflects or constructs an image of merchant-class life in London
• Methods Lydgate uses to bridge the gap between his wide population of London readers and the aristocracy who were his more immediate customers
• The thematic orientation of Lydgate's poetry as it pertains to the city of London
• The codicological context of Lydgate's poetry, and how this suggests contemporary interpretations of his work's cultural, social and regional representations
Please send proposals of 250 words to: email@example.com
DEADLINE: September 15th.