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Lisa H. Cooper
University of Wisconsin System (Madison, WI 53715-1218)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017

Ars Vivendi: The Poetics of Practicality in Late Medieval England

Completion of a book-length study on the relationship between medieval manuals of practical instruction and medieval English literature.

The late Middle Ages saw the creation of a vast syllabus of "how-to" books in English, works whose purpose was to help their readers to do something or to make something tangible in the world beyond the page: cookbooks, calendars, hunting manuals, and more. This project reveals the many intersections of these medieval "arts of living" with the more frequently studied forms of medieval "literary" fictions. It takes explicitly practical writings seriously in their own right, arguing that the Middle Ages show us how to imagine a world in which the aesthetically pleasing and the technically proficient, the beautiful and the necessary, need not just warily coexist but might rather mutually enrich one another. The project joins ongoing scholarly conversations about material culture, animal studies, ecocriticism, and the history of the book, and contributes to discussions about the role of the humanities both then and now.