This week we highlight the work of Louisa Foroughi, a PhD candidate mentored by Dr. Maryanne Kowaleski. Louisa recently published a book chapter entitled “‘If yt be a nacion’: Vernacular Scripture and English Nationhood in Columbia University Library, Plimpton MS 259.” The chapter was published in the collection Europe After Wyclif, edited by J. Patrick Hornbeck II and Michael van Dussen (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017), pp. 265-287. .
Louisa’s work puts two heretical tracts from fifteenth-century England into their social and religious context. These two tracts were likely written as part of a series of debates over bible translation that took place at Oxford in the late fourteenth century, sparked by the reformer John Wyclif. His ideas and the English bible produced by his followers were both condemned as heretical by Archbishop Arundel in 1407, but, as Louisa’s work shows, interest in and desire for an English bible continued through the end of the fifteenth century.
The story of how Louisa came to write this piece is a tale of true interdisciplinarity, and it underscores the dynamic nature of medieval studies at Fordham. Louisa found these tracts, one of them previously unknown to scholars, during a manuscript studies class led by Dr. Susanne Hafner that she took in the first semester of her master’s degree at Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies. She subsequently presented a talk about the tracts at a conference organized at Fordham by J. Patrick Hornbeck II of Fordham’s Department of Theology and Michael van Dussen of McGill University, and her work was published in the peer-reviewed edited collection of papers that developed out of that conference. Louisa’s archival research on the owners of the tracts during summer 2014 led her to develop a dissertation project that explores the tastes and self-construction of yeomen in late medieval England, a project that has been generously funded by Fordham’s History Department and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.