For years, the study of Middle English literature was focused on writing by and about a rather limited group of individuals. Scholars are increasingly interested in hearing the voices and experiences of those who have been traditionally excluded. These include the experiences and voices of women, which are represented in this anthology through works such as Ancrene Wisse and The Book of Margery Kempe and the voices of the working classes which, through its scathing political commentary, may be present in “Syng I wold.” There has also been a growing interest in recent years in narratives of disability; works included in the disability studies anthology offer a selection of these narratives and help shed light on the history of traditionally marginalized bodies.
Scholars are also increasingly interested in the literature created by the non-Christian communities that lived in England. The Hebrew Psalter included in this anthology reflects the works created by the Jewish communities that lived in England before they were cruelly banned by a 1290 edict. It serves as a valuable reminder that despite the ways in which medieval England is depicted in popular conceptualizations, it was not exclusively Christian.
Krista A. Murchison, General Editor