Author: Heather Blatt

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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Thomas of Erceldoune’s prophecy, Eleanor Hull’s Commentary on the penitential Psalms, and Thomas Norton’s Ordinal of alchemy
Heather Blatt

5 Reading temporally: Thomas of Erceldoune’s prophecy, Eleanor Hull’s Commentary on the penitential Psalms, and Thomas Norton’s Ordinal of alchemy Thomas Hoccleve’s Dialogue with a friend, previously discussed in the Introduction as exemplifying a moment of participatory reading, incorporates several specific reading practices into the interaction described between Hoccleve and his friend. One of these participatory reading practices, which Hoccleve also represents in the poem, is the practice of reading temporally. Temporal reading emerges prominently in the

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

2 Nonlinear reading: the Orcherd of Syon, Titus and Vespasian, and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes Published in 1549, The book of common prayer for the first time presented the reformed services for worship as reconceived in the wake of English separation from the Church of Rome. In considering medieval reading practices, a passage from its preface deserves particular attention. The preface targets for condemnation the consequences of what it considers flawed Catholic practices of textual organization, stating that the Bible ‘hath be so altered, broken and neglected

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

1 Corrective reading: Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and John Lydgate’s Troy Book This chapter focuses on a trope, one so common in medieval English literature that its critical work in the construction of latemedieval reading practices has gone unnoticed. This rhetorical device, often simply referred to as the humility topos, flourishes in Middle English during the fifteenth century, although it has its roots in fourteenth-century French of England and was common in Latin hagiographies before that.1 In the humility topos, a writer draws attention to

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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John Lydgate’s ‘Soteltes for the coronation banquet of Henry VI’
Heather Blatt

3 Reading materially: John Lydgate’s ‘Soteltes for the coronation banquet of Henry VI’ Allone as I went vp and doun, I ane abbay wes fair to se, Thinkand quhat consolatioun Wes best in to aduersitie, On cais I kest on syd myne e And saw this writtin vpoun a wall: ‘Off quhat estait, man, that thow be, Obey and thank thi God off all’. Robert Henryson, ‘Abbey Walk’1 Like other texts addressed in these chapters, the short lyric poem ‘Abbey Walk’, by the late fifteenth-century Scots poet Robert Henryson, engages the work of reading in ways that facilitate and even

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
Heather Blatt

4 Reading architecturally: The wall texts of a Percy family manuscript and the Poulys Daunce of St Paul’s Cathedral As discussed in the previous chapter, reading extracodexical texts materially requires attending to particular details such as space and place, and embodied experiences shaped by these materialities, such as movement. These three aspects of material reading converge in a striking way when considering the role of architecture in fashioning reading practices. Architecture may not seem an obvious direction in which to look when assessing the culture of

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England
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The reception of Christianity not mysterious, 1696–1702
Justin Champion

Reading scripture 3 . Reading Scripture: the reception of Christianity not mysterious, 1696–1702 religion ... it is more easy to guess what he was not, than to tell what ‘A heforwas. ’Tis certain, he was neither Jew nor Mahometan: But whether he S was a Christian, a Deist, a Pantheist, an Hobbist, or a Spinozist, is the Question’.1 Toland’s writings had ‘alarm’d all sober well-meaning Christians, and set the whole clergy against him’. Having explored how Toland lived and worked in a world of libraries and books, it is time to examine how his books worked in

in Republican learning
Elisa Narin van Court

7 The Siege of Jerusalem and recuperative readings Elisa Narin van Court Dismissed for years from serious critical attention, the fourteenthcentury alliterative narrative The Siege of Jerusalem1 has recently begun to generate the kind of interest associated with more canonical Middle English works. Scholarly studies have emerged to fill the lacunae of response and readings, and a new edition is forthcoming.2 In this essay I will argue that this new attention to Jerusalem is well deserved and long overdue, inhibited more by scholarly distaste for the poem

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
Manu Samriti Chandler

unextraordinary, that the poem hardly bears multiple readings. Things get a bit more interesting, however, when we consider that its author was not a white settler but an Afro-Creole who would go on to be hailed as the first real British Guianese poet and, in the words of Arthur Schomburg, ‘one of the greatest Negro poets in history’. 2 ‘E.M.’ was Egbert Martin, and, as I discuss below, his claim to represent British Guiana was founded precisely on the erasure of the Guianese native, or ‘Amerindian’. 3 This process of erasure, I argue, was not simply a consequence of a mode

in Worlding the south
Author: Steve Sohmer

This book will come as a revelation to Shakespeare scholars everywhere. It reveals the identity of the playwright and Shakespeare’s colleague behind the mask of Jaques in As You Like It. It pinpoints the true first night of Twelfth Night and reveals why the play’s performance at the Inns of Court was a momentous occasion for shakespeare. It also the identities Quinapalus, the Vapians, Pigrogromitus and Feste, as well as the ‘Dark Lady’ of the Sonnets and the inspiration for Jessica in The Merchant of Venice. And it solves Shakespeare’s greatest riddle: the meaning of M.O.A.I. in Twelfth Night. In sum, this book reveals William Shakespeare as a far more personal writer than we have ever imagined.