Reading practices and participation in digital and medieval media
engagement with digital media studies continue to offer medievalstudies productive ways of rethinking our assumptions about
medieval literature and culture.
In particular, examining participation in late-medieval literary culture through the perspectives offered by digital media
criticism and theory facilitates identification and evaluation of the
processes and procedures that shaped how readers engaged with
works, interpreted texts, thought of authors, and practised reading.
Indeed, focusing on participation in late-medieval English literary
John Lydgate’s ‘Soteltes for the coronation banquet of Henry VI’
shaped by the
materiality of the extracodexical text.
Materiality and extracodexical texts
Accordingly, this chapter focuses on participatory reading
as understood through the critical framework of materiality.
Materiality has flourished in medievalstudies in recent decades,
influenced by new materialisms and especially object-oriented
ontology, which provides a framework for understanding the
independent agency of things. Object-oriented ontology and
speculative realism provide the means to approach medieval historicity outside and around the perspective of the human
The wall texts of a Percy family manuscript and the Poulys Daunce of St Paul’s Cathedral
in digital media and medievalstudies.
In particular, I employ the work of media theorist Mark Hansen,
whose work has influenced the phenomenological approach to
theorizing and analysing digital media. In ‘Wearable space’, an
essay that became a chapter in Bodies in code, Hansen begins not
phenomenologically, but with a nod to Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema 1:
the movement image. He first focuses on a concept introduced by
Deleuze, that of the framing function performed by the technical
image (a function that includes, for example, the technologies
of the photograph, the
perceived relentless and violent anti-Judaism, than by any intrinsic lack
of literary or cultural value. The variety of new readings generated by
this poem which once existed, as Ralph Hanna notes, ‘on the suppressed margins of critical attention, unaccompanied by commentary’,3
testifies to its increasing importance in medievalstudies. Yet even as a
community of readers work to recuperate Jerusalem from its marginal
placement, with few exceptions they continue to read the narrative as
thoroughly anti-Judaic.4 My argument concerning the poem is predicated on a
Le Bone Florence of Rome and bourgeois self-making
similar elite milieux.
Derek Pearsall, ‘The development of Middle English romance’, MedievalStudies, 27 (1965), 91–116 (p. 92).
See A. McIntosh, M. Samuels and M. Benskin, A Linguistic Atlas of Late
Medieval England, 4 vols (Aberdeen, 1986), vol. 4, LP 531.
This is a variant version of The Child of Bristow, which has been discussed
by Barbara Hanawalt, ‘“The Childe of Bristowe” and the making of
middle-class adolescence’, in Barbara A. Hanawalt and David Wallace
(eds), Bodies and Disciplines: Intersections of Literature and History in
, see Peterson (“Laurel crown”);
for the ongoing payment of the annuity, see Berry and Timings (“Spenser’s pension”).
In a recent unpublished paper, Jean R. Brink has argued that Spenser sold his pension
to Thomas Walker (Brink, “Spenser’s death revisited,” 49th International Congress on
MedievalStudies, Kalamazoo, MI, May 8–11, 2014). Whether Berry and Timings or
Brink is correct does not affect my point here, which centers on Spenser’s staying sufficiently in the good graces of the court that his pension was not affected by the uproar
over the Complaints volume
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and John Lydgate’s Troy Book
see Holly Crocker’s introduction to the postmedieval forum discussion
on the status of academic review, ‘Introduction: how open, or, can
vulnerability go digital?’ Online at https://postmedieval-forum.com/
forums/forum-ii-states-of-review/introduction/ along with the other
essay distributed in this forum.
26 See Appendix A for other examples of invitations to emend; that
quoted from William Caxton can be found in his publication of the
Golden Legend, excerpted in The prologues and epilogues of William
Caxton, EETS 176, ed. W. J
know, she asserts, that ‘the pleasure of knowledgeable discourses on
pleasure’ is what we ‘deliver to our audiences’, we have assumed as our
‘ethical task’ to ‘discipline’ enjoyment out of academic inquiry. In
other words, medievalstudies (as a modern academic discipline) has
invested medieval culture with a seriousness (what Fradenberg calls ‘an
ethos of pietas’) that marginalises or denies those aspects of the culture
that are predominantly productive of enjoyment.31 So far as popular
romance is concerned (a genre Fradenberg does not consider directly),
The Orcherd of Syon, Titus and Vespasian, and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes
influenced by the organization of a particular literary form.
Similarly, Jeffrey Knight argues that textual composition is related to
the materiality of printing only through the choices made by writers
to respond to the material form of printing, in Bound to read: compilations, collections, and the making of Renaissance literature (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).
5 See Martin Foys, Virtually Anglo-Saxon: old media, new media, and
early medievalstudies in the late age of print (Gainesville: University
Press of Florida, 2007), particularly the
Thomas of Erceldoune’s prophecy, Eleanor Hull’s Commentary on the penitential Psalms, and Thomas Norton’s Ordinal of alchemy
, England and Scotland, 1286–1603 (London:
22 Thomas of Erceldoune’s prophecy, xxvff.
23 My use of ‘rhizomatic’ here follows development of the term in Deleuze
and Guattari’s A thousand plateaus, referring to a non-hierarchical
assemblage. The term has also been usefully explored in medievalstudies in relation to manuscript studies, as providing an alternative to
the traditional stemmatic view of manuscript relations; see Michael G.
Sargent, ‘Organic and cybernetic metaphors for manuscript relations:
stemma–cladogram–rhizome–cloud’, in The Pseudo