WiSe 16/17: HS-Medieval English Literatures: Medieval Texts in Transit
The aim of this seminar is to involve students in current debates concerning medieval text circulation and to help them to develop research questions and hypotheses regarding the transmission history of a text they can choose out of a pre-selected group of short Middle English texts from the multi-lingual late medieval manuscript BL Add 60577 (the Winchester Anthology). Each student will use the history of their particular text as a basis for exploring the processes of copying, translating, distributing and compiling texts underlying the creation of late medieval compilation manuscripts such as the Winchester Anthology. Bearing these investigations in mind, we will discuss the value of reading medieval texts in their manuscript context and consider what conclusions we can draw about the intended readership of the collection. We will further ask to what degree the manuscript can be read as a cohesive whole and what the ordering and arrangement of the texts tells us about contemporary perceptions of genre boundaries.
Reading the texts in their original language will sharpen our awareness of the structural and semantic features of Middle English. At the same time, considering the manuscript context of the texts will encourage students to deepen their understanding of the material culture in which the text they are studying was embedded and to familiarize themselves with New Philological approaches to medieval literature. The course will have a strong focus on developing and presenting independent theses in a series of short, unmarked essays throughout the semester and will require students to lead and actively shape class discussion.
The key primary resource is the digitized BL Add 60577 manuscript: (http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_60577_fs001r).
Key secondary texts include Julia Boffey and A. S. G. Edwards, A New Index of Middle English Verse (London: British Library, 2005); Michael Johnston and Michael van Dussen (eds)., The Medieval Manuscript Book: Cultural Approaches (Cambridge University Press, 2015); Derek Pearsall, 'The Whole Book: Late Medieval English Manuscript Miscellanies and their Modern Interpreters', in Imagining the Book, ed. by Stephen Kelly and John J. Thompson, Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe, 7 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2005), pp. 17-29.close
16 Class schedule