Crafting Narratives: Artisans, Authors, and the Literary Artifact in Late Medieval England


ACLS Fellowship Program




This study examines craft labor as it appears from the twelfth through fifteenth centuries in the literature of the schoolroom, household, monastery, and court. It argues that medieval authors not only found artisanal work a fascinating activity in its own right, but also used it to articulate the value of their own and their intended audiences’ economic, social, and cultural projects. In five chapters devoted to different literary genres and the social spheres in which they were produced and circulated, this study offers new insight into the relationship of material practice and literary production during the later Middle Ages and demonstrates that ideas about craft labor, the value of its products, and the status of its practitioners animate a broad spectrum of medieval vernacular texts.