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The Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060 to 1220: Report on First Project Symposium, Leicester, July 2007


Mary Swan, University of Leeds

The first of the Project's two symposia was held in Leicester on 5 and 6 July 2007. Twenty-nine people attended: numbers were necessarily limited in order to ensure plenty of discussion, and that certainly succeeded! It was a tremendously useful opportunity for the Project team to talk about what we are doing and more importantly to hear in detail what others are working on and to discuss together fundamental questions for the Project in terms of topic, methodology and future directions.

Speakers were: Mary Swan (Leeds), "Changing texts: English Manuscripts 1060 to 1220"; Faith Wallis (McGill), "MS Oxford St John's College 17: A tour of the website"; Orietta Da Rold (Leicester) and Susan Irvine (London), "Electronic Resources and Manuscripts"; Bella Millett (Southampton) and William Flynn (Leeds), "Preaching and Manuscripts"; Winfried Rudolf (London) and Peter Stokes (Cambridge), "Writing, Form and Language"; Elaine Treharne (Leicester), "Evaluations and Perspectives"; and Michael Gullick, "A Response."

It was the first opportunity to talk in detail about the catalogue—its mechanisms, layout and terminology—and we received copious and welcome feedback which will inform our next steps. The symposium also highlighted the work of the Project in an integrated and sustained fashion, and we are very grateful to all the attendees, among whom were historians, literary scholars, linguists, and codicologists and, perhaps most significantly, a healthy number of graduate students. The full list of participants is given at the end of this report. The connections we were able to make in those two days will be of invaluable assistance to us. Without the AHRC's sponsorship, none of this would have been possible.

In the opening plenary lecture, we gathered up participants' responses to the following: What are the major questions about English manuscripts 1060 to 1220 which you think need to be answered, or at least addressed? Are there particular manuscripts you would like to see scrutinised?

We also asked what questions or issues participants would particularly like the Symposium to deal with.

The major issues and questions proposed were:

  • Pre- to post- Conquest transmission
  • Contemporary post-Conquest transmission
  • Relationship of English to Latin and French, and the question of hierarchy of languages
  • Relationship of English and Latin to the liturgy
  • Relationship of manuscripts in English to 'new' European learning of post-1050, esp. scientific/medical
  • Institutional contexts of production
  • Impact of new religious orders
  • Evidence for relations between clergy and laity
  • Places of production:

- mapping (including language mapping)

- relationships between places of production

- mainland European influences

- institutional context

  • Language and language change (including in multiple copies of the same text, and in scribal alterations)
  • Scribes

- scribal training

- how many hands writing English?

- relationship between Latin and vernacular scripts

- scribal links between books and charters

- manuscript interrelationships

- scribal movement

  • Consciousness of change
  • Textual transmission
  • Layout and C12 bibliographical techniques
  • Who's in charge of manuscript production and alteration?
  • Who had access to manuscripts?
  • Implications for literary culture and for reading
  • Continuities -- and not.

Individual manuscripts flagged for attention included:

  • London, Lambeth Palace 487 and other SW Midlands MSS
  • Cambridge, Trinity College B. 14. 32
  • London, BL Cotton Claudius B. xiv
  • London, BL Cotton Faustina A.x
  • Oxford, Bodl. Lib. MS Bodley 180 (we've since catalogued this)
  • Oxford, Jesus College 17
  • London, BL Harley 3667
  • Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 265
  • MSS containing homilies
  • MSS containing didactic texts
  • Legal encyclopaedias
  • Glossed psalters
  • Charters and cartularies

So what will we do with all of this? Of course, some of the issues raised are core to our agenda in the Project, so they'll be at the heart of our deliberations, conference papers and publications over the remaining time. In addition to this, some issues—those specific to French and Latin, language change, scribal training and other contextual factors—are ones which others are better placed to think about than we are. We therefore want the Project to act as a facilitator for contacts and conversations on these and other topics. We will do this partly through our continuing organisation of conference sessions on related themes (Kalamazoo 2008 is the next of these), and partly through our planning for the second Project symposium. An important focus for collaboration, and for us to draw on the expertise of others, is our electronic catalogue. Our policy here is that if a scholar is working on one of the Project manuscripts, we invite them to contribute, or to collaborate with us in making, the catalogue entry for that manuscript, and of course they are credited with their authorship. The issues and questions raised at the Symposium served to highlight how much work needs to be done on particular aspects of the wider picture of manuscript production and use in and around this period in an European context, and we hope that July's wide-ranging and provocative discussions will have a longer term impact on everyone who attended. The second symposium will be held in 2009, and there will be more news on this nearer the time.

For more information on the Project, please visit http://www.le.ac.uk/ee/em1060to1220/index.html.

List of Participants:

  • Julia Barrow, University of Nottingham
  • Emma Campbell, University of Warwick
  • Aidan Conti, University of Bergen
  • Julia Crick, University of Exeter
  • Orietta Da Rold, University of Leicester
  • Richard Dance, St Catherine's College, Cambridge
  • Nick Doane, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Zoe Enstone, University of Leicester
  • William Flynn, University of Leeds
  • Thomas Gobbitt, University of Leeds
  • Michael Gullick, The Red Gull Press
  • Joyce Hill, University of Leeds
  • Susan Irvine, University College London
  • Martin K Foys, Hood College, MD
  • Ursula Lenker, Institut für Englische Philologie, Universität München
  • Angelika Lutz, Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Bella Millett, University of Southampton
  • Rob Payne, University of Leicester
  • Andrew Prescott, University of Wales Lampeter
  • Winfried Rudolf, University of Jena
  • Donald Scragg, University of Manchester
  • Philip Shaw, University of Sheffield
  • Peter Stokes, King's College, London
  • Jo Story, University of Leicester
  • Mary Swan, University of Leeds
  • Chris Tuckley, University of Leeds
  • Elaine Treharne, University of Leicester
  • Elizabeth Tyler, University of York
  • Faith Wallis, McGill University
  • Kate Wiles, University of Leeds