Walsingham was medieval England's most important shrine to the Virgin Mary and a popular pilgrimage site. Following its modern revival it is also well known today. For nearly a thousand years, it has been the subject of, or referred to in, music, poetry and novels (by for instance Langland, Erasmus, Sidney, Shakespeare, Hopkins, Eliot and Lowell). But only in the last twenty years or so has it received serious scholarly attention. This volume represents the first collection of multi-disciplinary essays on Walsingham's broader cultural significance. Contributors to this book focus on the hitherto neglected issue of Walsingham's cultural impact: the literary, historical, art historical and sociological significance that Walsingham has had for over six hundred years. The collection's essays consider connections between landscape and the sacred, the body and sexuality and Walsingham's place in literature, music and, more broadly, especially since the Reformation, in the construction of cultural memory. The historical range of the essays includes Walsingham's rise to prominence in the later Middle Ages, its destruction during the English Reformation, and the presence of uncanny echoes and traces in early modern English culture, including poems, ballads, music and some of the plays of Shakespeare. Contributions also examine the cultural dynamics of the remarkable revival of Walsingham as a place of pilgrimage and as a cultural icon in the Victorian and modern periods. Hitherto, scholarship on Walsingham has been almost entirely confined to the history of religion. In contrast, contributors to this volume include internationally known scholars from literature, cultural studies, history, sociology, anthropology and musicology as well as theology.
' … a breadth and depth which could mean [the book] has a wide appeal to different people. […]One of the fascinating things I reflected on whilst reading this book was how secular it feels. For the first time I was reading a volume which was about the social history of this particular place rather than focusing on its intrinsic spirituality.' New Directions
'Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is that it tries to encompass so many different areas of study and theoretical commitments within the study of this one medieval English pilgrimage shrine. In few other books would one find sexuality studies alongside art historical approaches to pilgrim badges, or music and memory studies alongside considerations of the construction of the modern shrine and Walsingham’s shadow across early modern literature and discussions of place and Tudor strengths.' Sixteenth Century Journal
Contents: Preface; Introduction: Walsingham, landscape, sexuality, and cultural memory, Dominic Janes and Gary Waller. Part I Landscape and the Sacred: Walsingham's local genius: Norfolk's 'newe Nazareth', Stella A. Singer; Pilgrimage at Walsingham on the eve of the Reformation: speculations on a 'splendid diversity' only dimly perceived, Michael P. Carroll; Waste space: pilgrim badges, Ophelia, and Walsingham remembered, Susan Signe Morrison; From the Holy Family to the Sidney and Lee-Warner families: the Protestantization of Walsingham, Gary Waller; Engaging visions? Sites and sights in contemporary pilgrimage to Walsingham, Simon Coleman. Part II The Body and Sexuality: St Anne and her Walsingham daughter, Carole Hill; The Virgin's 'pryvytes': Walsingham and the late medieval sexualization of the Virgin, Gary Waller; Walsingham and inter-war Anglo-Catholicism, Nigel Yates; Queer Walsingham, Dominic Janes. Part III Cultural Memory: Architecture, Literature, Music: Walsingham and the architecture of English history, John Twyning; Return of the Sacred Virgin: memory, loss, and restoration in Shakespeare's later plays, Susan Dunn-Hensley; 'Bare ruin'd quires, where late the sweet birds sang': covert speech in William Byrd's 'Walsingham' variations, Bradley Brookshire; 'Met I with an old bald mare': lust, misogyny, and the early modern Walsingham ballads, Alison A. Chapman; The poetics of incarnation: T.S. Eliot's 'shrine' and Robert Lowell's Walsingham, Barry Spurr; Select bibliography; Index.