Writing and the Plowman: Langland and Literacy
Although the dynamic of late medieval literacy was religious, the applications of literate practices to religion in PPl are frequently subjected to criticism, as in the tearing of the pardon, the practice of enrolling in a religious fraternity, and the confrontation of Piers and the Priest (B.7). Being literate is often seen as an impediment to spiritual progress; literate practices are apparently legitimated only by being associated with good works. There is only sporadic internal conceptualization of the poem as a written text. When Latin texts are marked as literate discourse they are signalled as an intrusion into the poem’s customary discourse.
YLS 9 (1995): 121-31.