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date: 30 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores “insistently practical” medieval texts—works “whose explicit goal is to assist their readers to make something in the world beyond the page (a book, a culinary dish, an ointment, an object)” and asks if they can be said to have a poetics. Drawing on Michel de Certeau and Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of practice as well as Gérard Genette’s concepts of literariness, the article examines medieval vocabularies, medical texts, recipes, carving manuals, and several works by Geoffrey Chaucer and John Lydgate to consider the relationship of the poetic and the practical and the broad “appeal of the how-to text” in late medieval English literature and culture.

Keywords: Pierre Bourdieu, Michel de Certeau, Geoffrey Chaucer, Gerard Genette, John Lydgate, practice, poetry, vocabularies, recipes, manuals, didactic literature, instruction, literary form

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