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Looking Inward: Devotional Reading and the Private Self in Late Medieval England

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After a comprehensive introduction that covers trends in devotional literature leading up to the period of study, Bryan outlines several conflicting medieval definitions of interiority, ranging from Rollean inward love to inaccessibility, individualism, and introspection. [...] the book's afterword looks ahead to the Reformation to point out that these patterns of private devotion continued to be important for Protestants and Recusants alike.

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									                    Book Reviews

Looking Inward: Devotional Reading and the Private Self in
Late Medieval England
Jennifer Bryan (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
2008) 270 pages, hardcover, $49.95, ISBN 978-0-8122-4048-1.
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      This recent book considers the vast scope of devotional
literature popular in England from roughly 1350 to 1550 and the
impact it had on ideas about the private self, or the Pauline
“inward man.” Jennifer Bryan’s treatment of these texts is
solidly grounded in the religious, social, and historical contexts
of the period and demonstrates praiseworthy breadth and depth.
      After a comprehensive introduction that covers trends in
devotional literature leading up to the period of study, Bryan
outlines several conflicting medieval definitions of interiority,
ranging from Rollean inward love to inaccessibility,
individualism, and introspection. She then focuses on medieval
notions of vision and associations between the faculty of sight,
the formation of identity, and Augustinian views of the Pauline
mirror (“per speculum in aenigmate”).
      Titles containing the word “mirror” increased starting
around 1200, and mirrors began appearing frequently in English
poetry from the middle of the fourteenth century. Bryan spends
the majority of her second chapter analyzing one such text, The
Myroure of Oure Ladye (a fiftee
								
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