Meideval Political Ecology: Labor and Agency on the Half Acre
This essay takes up the problem of agency in PPl by considering the failure of the plowing of the half acre in passus 6 in terms of the political ecology of agrarian husbandry and estate management. The failure of the community formed on the half acre allegorizes the limitations of human agency to approach Truth, figured through the ecological and communal constraints within which individuals live in an agrarian society. As medieval husbandry manuals reveal, growing food required the coordination of an array of social and natural factors, which were often unpredictable and difficult to manage. The dangers of interdependence are enacted in the crisis precipitated by Wastour, in which the collective ways humans meet their bodily needs block their ability to discover Truth.
Yearbook of Langland Studies, 28 (2014), 105-136.