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Interpreting the visual dynamics of religious manuscripts in England, 1260-1500

Allen, Lucy (2013) Interpreting the visual dynamics of religious manuscripts in England, 1260-1500. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

In this thesis, I contend that the visual dynamics of religious manuscripts produced in England (1260-1500) had fundamental importance in shaping the cognitive and conceptual responses of readers who were not literate in Latin. I begin by establishing the primacy of Latin paraliturgical materials, used for teaching beginning readers the preliminary skills needed to recite Latin prayers. In Books of Hours, all the visual components of the page combined to inculcate a distinctive mode of reading, close to monastic lectio, which was to influence Middle English devotional writing. In my second chapter, I demonstrate that thirteenth-century pastoral writings such as the Manuel des Péchés placed readers in intimate contact with modes of reading translated from the Latin, and that this mode of reading endured in popularity into the fifteenth century. My third chapter considers the translation of the French of England of the Manuel into Middle English as Handlyng Synne, and the transmission of that Middle English text in late fourteenth- and fifteenth-century manuscripts. Handlyng Synne repositions the French of England as a language exclusive to ‘clerkes,’ and this repositioning creates a space in which Latin becomes almost vernacularised. In the visual dynamics of the Handlyng Synne manuscripts, we see evidence of readers who were competent to interpret Latin submerged in Middle English. In Nicholas Love’s Mirror, paraliturgical Latin again comes to the fore, in visual dynamics that construct a space for Middle English readers on the margins of Latin textual culture. In my final chapter, I look at the late-medieval manuscripts of the romance Robert of Sicily, finding in them complex interactions between languages, which shed light on the text’s central exploration of the process of translation and of the positions of Latin and Middle English. I conclude that, despite medieval writers’ rhetorical distinction of the three main languages of medieval England from one another, Latin models of reading were transmitted from paraliturgical contexts, from texts written in the French of England, into Middle English manuscripts, whose visual contents are constantly in contact with Latin.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Medieval manuscripts religious trilingual reading
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Medieval Studies (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.605265
Depositing User: Ms Lucy Allen
Date Deposited: 07 May 2014 14:43
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:30
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5816

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