Response to Andrew Galloway’s “ Piers Plowman and the Subject of the Law”
Begins by asking about the significance of L’s command of legal language, and then moves “to investigate the extent of crossover discourse” (following Middleton) in PPl – this as a means to review Galloway’s thesis (derived in part from Richard Firth Green’s, A Crisis of Truth) about “the cultural change from orally based folklaw to literate centralized law, in order to mount a case differentiating B from C in the telling of the Peace episode.” The respondent asserts that the distinctions between the B and C versions of the Peace episode are not so much a reflection of these changes but rather differences mitigated by the larger episode that is the Meed allegory. It is here that the crossover discourse appears prominent, since the only way to defeat Meed is through legal language that is also eschatological, that cites the end times as the very future when Meed will be defeated. This form of justice is neither folklaw nor centralized law. The problem is to discern “how mimetic this sort of crossover is,”and whether the subject of the law in its particularly surreal manifestations is necessarily always amenable to cultural history.
YLS 15 (2001): 129-33.