Essays in Honor of Denise N. Baker

Edited by Amy N. Vines and Lee Templeton

In pursuing how fourteenth-century English texts engage with philosophical, intellectual, and theological questions, the work of Denise N. Baker has powerfully shaped the field of medieval studies. This collection honors Baker’s legacy as a scholar and teacher by taking a fresh approach to the most salient literary, mystical, and devotional works written in late medieval England. The contributors examine a variety of foundational texts ranging from Piers Plowman and The Canterbury Tales to The Cloud of Unknowing and Julian of Norwich’s Showings. Their analyses offer new insights into medieval literature and culture by examining the intricacies of vice and virtue, the connections between gender and literary form, and the ethical potential of social formations. Additionally, the volume attests to the wider influence of fourteenth-century literature. Not only do the contributors explore how medieval writers make their own claims of memorialization, but they also analyze later iterations of Middle English writing in the context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century print culture. Featuring chapters by both early scholars and those at the later stages of their careers, this volume celebrates the impact of Baker’s scholarship over the past four decades. At the same time, this book offers an incisive inquiry into many of the most debated issues and texts in studies of late medieval England.



Over the past fifty years, Denise N. Baker has produced a stream of studies, books, and editions that have had a shaping influence on Middle English scholarship, especially through her transformative work on the fourteenth-century visionary theologian Julian of Norwich. New Directions in Medieval Mystical and Devotional Literature not only makes a fitting tribute to a beloved scholar and teacher; it constitutes a significant contribution to the field in its own right. The essays in this beautifully presented book will be essential reading for anyone interested in late-medieval vernacular theology and its reception, both in England and beyond.
— Nicholas Watson, professor of English, Harvard University


In ten varied and useful essays gathered for this volume, former students and colleagues celebrate the life’s work of the wonderful Denise N. Baker, whose sensitive and incisive scholarship is always worth close attention. Ranging over many topics and with particular attention to the writings of Chaucer, Julian of Norwich, and William Langland, this book is a fitting tribute to a scholar whose clarity of thought continues to generate new directions for study, some of which are aptly pursued here in her honor.
— Cristina Maria Cervone, professor of English, University of Memphis

Book cover showing medieval manuscript