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BrueghelÆs Heavy Dancers

Transgressive Clothing, Class, and Culture in the Late Middle Ages

John Block Friedman (author)

ISBN: 9780815632153

Publication Date: Jun 2010

Format: Hardback

Reveals how portrayals of peasants from the literature of the Golden Age of Virgilian Pastoral, who behave according to their social station, were increasingly replaced in the Middle Ages by portrayals that present the realistic peasant, whose outrageous behavior betrays his or her class while it threatens those who stand 'above'.
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What do Brueghel's mid-sixteenth-century portrayals of 'heavy' wedding dancers and feasters have in common with many late medieval poems and manuscript illustrations? Certain of his paintings, with their obsessive social detail, have often been treated as if they heralded a set of cultural attitudes peculiar to the Early Modern period. Yet the way that the painter combines, in a single scene, scurrilous behavior with dress not only unsuited to the rustic status of the wearers but often sexually revealing, reflects attitudes toward clothing, class, and culture that are deeply medieval. In this expansive and highly original book, Friedman reveals how portrayals of peasants from the literature of the Golden Age of Virgilian Pastoral, who behave according to their social station, were increasingly replaced in the Middle Ages by portrayals that present the realistic peasant, whose outrageous behavior betrays his or her class while it threatens those who stand 'above'. Capacious in scope, the book covers poems from England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain from the twelfth through the sixteenth centuries. In addition, Friedman draws on texts from various genres, particularly the Pastourelle, giving readers the first panoramic approach to late medieval views of peasant clothing and certain related social behaviors such as eating, publicly excreting, brawling, and 'mooning'. The book examines elite anxiety over the socially striving lower classes during a period in which social identity was fluid and hierarchies were increasingly challenged by pressure from below. Illustrated with over twenty black-and-white images and offering detailed analyses of poems, plays, and stories, "Brueghel's Heavy Dancers" offers a fresh and illuminating contribution to the field of medieval studies.
Illustrations 21 black-&-white illustrations, notes, bibliography, index
Pages 456
Dimensions 229 x 152mm
Date Published 30 Jun 2010
Publisher Syracuse University Press
Subject/s Literature & literary studies   Literature: history & criticism   Literary studies: general   Literary studies: classical, early & medieval  

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