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.

curriculum as well as provide media-literacy training for teachers ( California News Publishers Association, 2018 ). Meanwhile, the European Commission’s High Level Group for misinformation and fake news has made a key recommendation that member countries ‘promote media and information literacy to counter disinformation and help users navigate the digital media environment’ ( European Commission, 2018 ). More broadly, we need to focus curricula on critical thinking and reasoning. Recent interventions have shown this can be massively beneficial

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
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Reading practices and participation in digital and medieval media

? And what did their participation achieve for themselves or others? Introduction 3 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 media studies. 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

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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The wall texts of a Percy family manuscript and the Poulys Daunce of St Paul’s Cathedral

only are shaped by the people who designed and used them, but shape those people in return.2 Such effects extend also to reading practice. In particular, movement in architectural space further emphasizes the social and physical role of the body in reading practice. Such considerations as these are not restricted, however, to medieval literary culture and architecture alone. Writing about such physical experiences in more modern contexts, digital media theorist Mark Hansen and others emphasize how bodily engagement with the world around a person can create marked

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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Thomas of Erceldoune’s prophecy, Eleanor Hull’s Commentary on the penitential Psalms, and Thomas Norton’s Ordinal of alchemy

other reading practices discussed previously, also engaged the interest of critics, artists, and theorists working with digital media, alongside theo- Reading temporally 169 retical ways of understanding time, from the work of Stephen Hawking to that of Giorgio Agamben. Among critics of digital media, how the experience of time in and in response to digital media have gained the most attention. Such critics, seeking to apply concepts drawn from narratology, have sought to explain and analyse temporal phenomenal present in works like video games. Analysing such

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and John Lydgate’s Troy Book

, vernacular reading practices, and the technological shift from manuscript to print. In its emergence, it most commonly demonstrates varying attitudes towards readers’ corrective reading that seek either to encourage or restrict its practice. These attitudes strongly resemble those adopted towards open- and closed-access participation possible today in digital media, suggesting a longer, premodern history of practices today considered characteristic of digital media, such as crowd-sourced editing. Open and closed-access invitations What follows will delve more deeply into

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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The Orcherd of Syon, Titus and Vespasian, and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes

of hours. How books of hours compiled texts together, drawn from the Bible and liturgical books, leads directly to the condemnation issued in The book of common prayer. As addressed in the preface, this type of textual organization also prompts a particular reading practice. This reading practice is known as ‘nonlinear’, ‘nonsequential’, or ‘selective’ reading, and it is most conventionally performed when apprehending a text organized into sections, called ‘nodes’ or ‘lexia’ in digital media.2 The number of terms to describe the concept refers to an inherent

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understand this change, which has created greener pastures for fabricated news and conspiracy theories. There is doubtless a need for research geared to contributing to increased knowledge and awareness of the moral issues and problem complexes that follow in the wake of the transformed opportunities for gossip, the spreading of rumours, talk-in-text hybrids, and other types of orality in the digital media environment. It should be added that scandal audiences have been given far too little attention so far. In order to understand mediated scandals in depth, we must

in Exposed
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John Lydgate’s ‘Soteltes for the coronation banquet of Henry VI’

materiality of digital media. In their approaches, they expand upon the understanding of materiality developed through the work of phenomenologists 108 Participatory reading in late-medieval England and gender theorists such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Judith Butler. The approaches of digital materiality studies also help to illuminate ways of thinking about medieval textual experience beyond that of the pages of a manuscript, which has dominated critical perspectives of literary materiality particularly in the wake of heightened consideration of the ‘manuscript matrix

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
A conceptual framework for considering mapping projects as they change over time

digital form also has implications for how we might ‘date stamp’ them or order them temporally. Websites might be periodically updated but there is no one moment of publication as there is with a paper map. Indeed, digital media in general is complex in terms of temporality. Following Tim Barker’s writing about Time and the Digital, particularly his discussion of the philosophical work of Serres and Deleuze, it is probably useful to think of digital media as combining multiple temporalities (Barker, 2012). For example, when we access websites we consider them as

in Time for mapping