Reorienting the narrative of digital media studies to incorporate the medieval, Participatory reading in late-medieval England traces affinities between digital and medieval media to explore how participation defined reading practices and shaped relations between writers and readers in England’s literary culture from the late-fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries. Traditionally, print operates as the comparative touchstone of both medieval and digital media, but Participatory reading argues that the latter share more in common with each other than either does with print. Working on the borders of digital humanities, medieval cultural studies, and the history of the book, Participatory reading draws on well-known and little-studied works ranging from Chaucer to banqueting poems and wall-texts to demonstrate how medieval writers and readers engaged with practices familiar in digital media today, from crowd-sourced editing to nonlinear apprehension to mobility, temporality, and forensic materiality illuminate. Writers turned to these practices in order to both elicit and control readers’ engagement with their works in ways that would benefit the writers’ reputations along with the transmission and interpretation of their texts, while readers pursued their own agendas—which could conflict with or set aside writers’ attempts to frame readers’ work. The interactions that gather around participatory reading practices reflect concerns about authority, literacy, and media formats, before and after the introduction of print. Participatory reading is of interest to students and scholars of medieval literature, book, and reading history, in addition to those interested in the long history of media studies.
The ideas informing this edited collection were initially developed at a round table event in 2016 and the editors would like to thank Maurice Hamington, Caoimhe McAvinchey, Jonathan Petherbridge, Pam Smith, Robert Stern and Lois Weaver for their participation, being such good critical friends and so generously responding to our invitation to join us in this highly productive dialogue about the relationship between performance and care ethics. We would also like to thank all those who contributed to the Performing Care Symposium at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in December 2016, particularly Maurice Hamington who gave such an engaging keynote. We would also like to thank Maria Delgado, Dan Hetherington and Central’s research office for their invaluable support for these events and the development of the edited collection. Our thanks are also extended to Sally Baggott for her excellent editing skills, to Adelina Ong and James Rawson for their help with the referencing and indexing process and to Tony Fisher for being a source of support throughout in so many ways. We would also like to thank David Harradine for his thoughtful input and Fevered Sleep for granting us permission to use the wonderful image from Men & Girls Dance. Our thanks also go to Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, for kindly permitting us to republish James Thompson’s article. Finally, we would like to send our warmest thanks to Matthew Frost and Manchester University Press for working with us on this project and supporting our desire to ground this book in an interdisciplinary interrogation of performance and care.
Caoimhe McAvinchey would like to thank Clean Break for supporting her access to the company, particularly Lucy Perman for her generous reflections and Anna Herrmann and Deborah Bruce for kindly giving permission to quote from the unpublished text, Hear (2016).
Ella Parry-Davies would like to thank Dima el Mabsout for sharing such generous insight into her work over several years and for her comments on Ella’s critical responses to it. Ella also extends her thanks to Zeina Assaf, Kélina Gotman, Jane Rendell, Fiona Wilkie, Liang Peilin and Matthew Yoxall for their comments at various stages of the writing of her chapter, and to interlocutors at PSi 2015 in Lebanon and PSi 2016 in Australia.
Matt Jennings, Pat Deeny and Karl Tizzard-Kleister would like to thank Luke Merritt and Harrison McCallum, who contributed to the development of Chapter 11 and Mary Findon-Henry, Lecturer in Mental Health and Forensic Healthcare, School of Nursing, Ulster University for her support and guidance with the project.