This deeply informed and lavishly illustrated book is a
comprehensive introduction to the modern study of Middle English
manuscripts. It is intended for students and scholars who are
familiar with some of the major Middle English literary works, such
as The Canterbury Tales, Gawain and the Green Knight, Piers
Plowman, and the romances, mystical works or cycle plays, but who
may not know much about the surviving manuscripts. The book
approaches these texts in a way that takes into account the whole
manuscript or codex its textual and visual contents, physical
state, readership, and cultural history. Opening Up Middle English
Manuscripts also explores the function of illustrations in
fashioning audience response to particular authors and their texts
over the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Linda Olson, and Maidie Hilmo scholars at
the forefront of the modern study of Middle English manuscripts
focus on the writers most often taught in Middle English courses,
including Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, the Gawain Poet,
Thomas Hoccleve, Julian of Norwich, and Margery Kempe, highlighting
the specific issues that shaped literary production in late
medieval England. Among the topics they address are the rise of the
English language, literacy, social conditions of authorship, early
instances of the "Alliterative Revival," women and book production,
nuns' libraries, patronage, household books, religious and
political trends, and attempts at revisionism and censorship.
Inspired by the highly successful study of Latin manuscripts by
Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript
Studies (also published by Cornell), this book demonstrates how the
field of Middle English manuscript studies, with its own unique
literary and artistic environment, is changing modern approaches to
the culture of the book."
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