Piers Plowman has long been considered one of the greatest poems of medieval England. Current scholarship on this alliterative masterpiece looks very different from that available even a decade ago. New information about the manuscripts of the poem, new historical discoveries, and new investigations of its literary, cultural and theoretical scope have fundamentally altered the very meaning of Langland's art. This Companion thus critically surveys traditional scholarship, with the aim of recuperating its best insights, and it ventures forth into newer areas of inquiry attuned to questions of social setting, institutional context, intellectual and literary history, theory, and the revitalized fields of codicology and paleography. By proceeding through chapters that offer cumulatively wider views as well as stand-alone analyses of topics most crucial to understanding Piers Plowman, this Companion gives serious students and seasoned scholars alike up-to-date knowledge of this intricate and beautiful poem.
Andrew Cole is Associate Professor of English at Princeton University. Andrew Galloway is Professor of English at Cornell University.
Introduction: studying Piers Plowman in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries Andrew Cole and Andrew Galloway; Part I. The Poem and its Traditions: 1. Major episodes and moments in Piers Plowman B Helen Barr; 2. The versions and revisions of Piers Plowman Ralph Hanna; 3. Literary history and Piers Plowman Steven Justice; 4. Allegory and Piers Plowman Jill Mann; Part II. Historical and Intellectual Contexts: 5. The Rokeles: an index for a 'Langland' family history Robert Adams; 6. Religious forms and institutions in Piers Plowman James Simpson; 7. Political forms and institutions in Piers Plowman Matthew Giancarlo; 8. Christian philosophy in Piers Plowman Andrew Cole and Andrew Galloway; 9. The non-Christians of Piers Plowman Suzanne Conklin Akbari; Part III. Readers and Responses: 10. Manuscripts and readers of Piers Plowman Simon Horobin; 11. Plowman traditions in late medieval and early modern writing Lawrence Warner; 12. Piers Plowman in theory Nicolette Zeeman; Guide to further reading.