New essays on late medieval manuscripts highlight the complicated network of their production and dissemination.
One of the most important developments in medieval English literary studies since the 1980s has been the growth of manuscript studies. Long regarded as mere textual repositories, and treated superficially by editors, manuscripts are now acknowledged as centrally important in the study of later medieval texts. The essays collected here discuss aspects of the design and distribution of manuscripts in late medieval England, with a particular focus on vernacular manuscripts of the late fourteenth, fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Those in the first half consider material evidence for scribal decisions about design: these range from analysis of individual codices to broader discussions of particular types of manuscripts, both religious and secular. Later essays look at the evidence for the production and distribution of manuscripts of specific English texts or types of text. These include the major Middle English poems The Canterbury Tales and Piers Plowman, as well as key religious works such as Love's Mirror, Hilton's Scale of Perfection, the Speculum Vitae and The Pricke of Conscience, all of which survive in significant numbers of manuscripts. The comparison of secular and devotional texts illuminates shared networks of production and dissemination, and increases our knowledge of regional and metropolitan book production in the period before printing.
Contributors: DANIEL W. MOSSER, JACOB THAISEN, TAKAKO KATO, SHERRY L. REAMES, AMELIA GROUNDS, ALEXANDRA BARRATT, JULIAN M. LUXFORD, LINNE R. MOONEY, MICHAEL G. SARGENT, JOHNJ. THOMPSON, MARGARET CONNOLLY, RALPH HANNA, GEORGE R. KEISER.