The Medieval Uses of Secrecy
"Lochrie takes a significant feature of medieval culture, secrecy, and translates the issues it raises to urgent contemporary concerns while still illuminating their meaning within medieval contexts. Her writing is lucid and concise while at the same time suggestive and provocative. She has an unerring eye for detail, and an impressive ability to argue through example. This is an important book."—Larry Scanlon, Rutgers University
"Engaging and innovative. . . . The present volume offers exemplary close readings of primary works enhanced and enriched by the theoretical framework."—Choice
"A tantalizing work. . . . Hidden away in this book are treasures well worth the hunt."—English Historical Review
Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Book
In Covert Operations, Karma Lochrie brings the categories and cultural meanings of secrecy in the Middle Ages out into the open. Isolating five broad areas—confession, women's gossip, medieval science and medicine, marriage and the law, and sodomitic discourse—Lochrie examines various types of secrecy and the literary texts in which they are played out. She reads texts as central to Middle English studies as the "Parson's Tale," the "Miller's Tale," the Secretum Secretorum, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well as a broad range of less familiar works, including a gynecological treatise and a little-known fifteenth-century parody in which gossip and confession become one. As she does so she reveals a great deal about the medieval past—and perhaps just as much about the early development of the concealments that shape the present day.
Karma Lochrie is Ruth Halls Professor of English at Indiana University. She is the author of Margery Kempe and Translations of the Flesh, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.