Lessons from Piers Plowman

Higher education has become a polarizing topic in U.S. politics, but the underlying issues—who should be taught, what should be taught, and to what end—stretch back to the Middle Ages, according to Assistant Professor of English Eric Weiskott. In a piece for the Winter issue of Boston College Magazine, Weiskott considers the timeliness of the message in English writer William Langland’s epic poem Piers Plowman. “In the late 14th century, as in the early 21st century, everyday people felt the chasm between the haves and have-nots widening,” writes Weiskott, adding “Langland wondered whether education was living up to its promises.” Weiskott is the author of the book English Alliterative Verse: Poetic Tradition and Literary History (Cambridge University Press). He recently talked about his book in this video from BC Libraries.

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