Introduction: Langland and Lollardy: The Form of the Matter.
Cole’s essay introduces the special section of YLS 17 on “Langland and Lollardy.” Although “lollardy” might have become a “commonplace” in Middle English studies generally, this is not the case with Langland studies, where the thinking of the last twenty years or so has ensured that “Piers Plowman and Wycliffism have remained exclusive from one another.” This insistence might be read as a “critical response” that seeks to “over-compensate” for the eagerness of early modern reformers to ascribe lollardy to L and even to identify Wyclif as the author of PPl. The essays in this section engage the history of critical paradigms in Langland and Lollard studies to engender debate about the possible relationships between PPl and Wycliffite texts as revealed by their formal and literary aspects. The introduction then goes on to discuss the leading ideas of the essays by Aers (no. 1372), Cole, Hudson, Pearsall, and Somerset (nos. 1377, 1385, 1390, and 1395 below), highlighting some of the fruitful ways in which the concerns of these pieces intersect.