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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24696

Title: Textual Community and Linguistic Distance in Early England
Authors: Butler , Emily Elisabeth
Advisor: Orchard, Andy
Department: Medieval Studies
Keywords: Anglo-Saxon
book history
Old English
early modern
Issue Date: 5-Aug-2010
Abstract: This dissertation examines the function of textual communities in England from the early Middle Ages until the early modern period, exploring the ways in which cultures and communities are formed through textual activities other than writing itself. I open by discussing the characteristics of a textual community in order to establish a new understanding of the term. I argue that a textual community is fundamentally based on activity carried out in books and that perceptions of linguistic distance stimulate this activity. Chapter 1 investigates Bede (c. 673–735) and his interest in multilingualism, coupled with his exploration of the boundaries between the written and spoken forms of English. Picking up on an element of Bede's work, I argue in Chapter 2 that Alfred (r. 871–899) and his grandson Æthelstan (r. 924/5–939) found new ways to make textuality the defining quality of the emerging West Saxon kingdom. In Chapter 3, I focus on the intralingual distance in the textual community surrounding the works of Ælfric (c. 950–1010) and Wulfstan (d. 1023). I also discuss the role of contemporary or near-contemporary manuscript use in forming a textual community at the intersection of ecclesiastical and political power. In Chapter 4, I examine the activities of a textual community in the West Midlands in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. By glossing Old English texts and rethinking English orthography, this textual community both renewed the work of Anglo-Saxon writers and enabled the activity I discuss in Chapter 5. Chapter 5 argues for a more constructive rationalization of the curatorial and editorial activities of Matthew Parker (1504–1575) than has been presented hitherto. I argue that Parker's cavalier methods of conserving and editing his books in fact represent responses to the textual models he found in those manuscripts. An appendix presents the text and translation of the preface to Parker's edition of Asser's Life of King Alfred. I close with a discussion of the production and use of books, followed by an illustration of the ongoing importance of textual community in England by highlighting the layers of use in a single manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Hatton 20) that links together the chapters of this dissertation.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24696
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Centre for Medieval Studies - Doctoral theses

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