Lisa H. Cooper offers new insight into the relationship of material practice and literary production in the Middle Ages by exploring the representation of craft labor in England from c.1000-1483. She examines genres as diverse as the school-text, comic poem, spiritual allegory, and mirror for princes, and works by authors both well-known (Chaucer, Lydgate, Caxton) and far less so. Whether they represent craft as profitable endeavor, learned skill, or degrading toil, the texts she reviews not only depict artisans as increasingly legitimate members of the body politic, but also deploy images of craft labor and its products to confront other complex issues, including the nature of authorship, the purpose of community, the structure of the household, the fate of the soul, and the scope of princely power.
Cooper, L. H. Artisans and Narrative Craft in Late Medieval England. Cambridge University Press, 2011.