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.
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legal theory (Fineman, 2008; 2010; Fineman and Fineman, 2017); from
bioethics and other forms of ethics (Straehle, 2016; ten Have, 2016) to
environmental and disaster studies (Bankoff, 2001; Clark, 2010); from
studies of sexual violence (Bergoffen, 2011; Gilson, 2014; 2016) and feminist philosophy (Anderson, 2003; Butler, 1997a; 2004; 2009; Gilson,
2014; Mackenzie et al., 2013) to political theory (Butler et al., 2016), international relations (Beattie and Schick, 2013), and development studies,
as well as mediastudies
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to the alleged due process, as described above. Second, the
punishments dealt out to black people for articulating protest also took on
similar forms: de-legitimisation, silencing, bereavement, and expulsion.
Having had my share of both being subjected and bearing witness to
the accelerating normalisation of anti-black racism, I no longer see a valid
reason to presume that there is a clear distinction between battles over cultural images or battles for black survival –they are inextricably intertwined.
From a strict film and mediastudies position, I would not
Reading practices and participation in digital and medieval media
? And what did their participation
achieve for themselves or others?
The context: reading, participation, and agency
The central subject of this project thus focuses on participation, a
concept for which I am indebted to digital mediastudies. Perhaps
because of the autobiographical self-interest of a writer raised in a
print-centric culture but currently inhabiting a culture impacted
by a new technology of writing and reading technology, I find
great interest in studying a culture on the cusp of a parallel, earlier
change. Yet beyond the bounds of
Thomas of Erceldoune’s prophecy, Eleanor Hull’s Commentary on the penitential Psalms, and Thomas Norton’s Ordinal of alchemy
’. This term draws on the critical framework of participatory materiality as discussed in Chapter 3, and
also extends theorization of temporalities encountered in digital
media. In digital mediastudies, Raine Koskimaa has elaborated
on narratological understanding of temporality and contrasted it
with assessments of temporality by scholars of digital media to
distinguish four levels of temporality in narrative digital texts:
user time (which is the time a person spends reading a text, and
synonymous with reading time), discourse time (the time of the