The Dynamics of the Medieval Manuscript: Text Collections from a European Perspective
Moderns editions of medieval literary texts tend to give the false impression that they have come down to us in single text manuscripts or well-ordered anthologies, with only minor revisions along the way.
The truth is very different. Most medieval texts, though perhaps originally composed individually, evolved, and were read in multi-text manuscripts, and organised in a variety of ways. Throughout the Middle Ages, these texts were copied and recopied by scribes to produce different manuscripts in a variety of contexts. With each new copy and changing of context both the works and their meanings evolved, often significantly.
This project investigated the textual dynamics of this revision and rewriting process. It examined the:
- implications for the contemporary readers of the manuscripts
- concept of authorship in pre-modern and pre-print cultures
The project also sought to understand how these dynamic processes shaped readers’ identities in the later Middle Ages, one of the most important formative periods for the cultural and social fabric of modern Europe.