EN392 Chapter 1: week 1 readings

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7 May 2018
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EN392
Readings for Quiz 1
Broadview
Xxxiii lxxi
The Medieval Period
Medieval literature in England included works written in English, Latin, Anglo-Norman French,
Middle Welsh, and Old Irish
Bitish ad Eglish ae ot itehageale
o Entwined with political realities and national identities
o Bitish deies fo the Roa ae fo eal Celti settles i hat e o all the
British Isles
o Eglish efes to the Geai iades ad settles ho ega aiig i the th
century, pushed the Celtic inhabitants to the west and the north (now Wales &
Scotland), & eventually ruled the central part of the island
o Those who tried to claim legitimate rulership of England made strategic use of the
Bitish taditio those suoudig Kig Athu
Much of what remains in written form from the MA had a prior existence as, or owes enormous
debt to, oral forms
o The circumstances of their creation & reception are, at least ostensibly, performative
and communal , not silent and solitary
The single-tet oogaph- one work between two covers- is by no means the most common
mode of transmission for medieval texts, & the effort to determine the relationship between
texts in medieval manuscripts, the intentions of the creators of such compilations and their
effect upon readers, is a major area of study
One of the most obvious divisions in English literary history lies between the literature of the
Anglo-Saxons the English before the Norman Conquest (1066)- and that of the English
afterward
o Within these 2 periods further divisions can be made: early OE lit, as far as we can
reconstruct it, differs markedly from lit after the reign of Alfred the Great (d.899), who
sought to begin a program of vernacular literacy and bestowed a certain royal authority
on English as a quasi-official written language
Norman French was the language of courtly culture in England
Eal Middle Eglish roughly from the century after the Conquest until the beginning of the
14th cen.- English began to take its place alongside the culturally more prestigious Latin (Church)
& French (court, law, & admin)
o Writers chose English for aristocratic readers
15th cen.: gradual re-deelopet of a itte stadad Eglish & a outpouig of litea
works (devotional) that fostered and responded to rising literacy rates
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o Printing introduced in the later 15th cen.
16th cen.: wider spread of printing in England, the standard became more fixed, changing into
Modern English
History, Narrative, Culture
Histo is ot sipl hat happeed i the past, ut the stories we tell about what happened
in the past
Eets, ojets, ad stoies do’t speak fo theseles; the hae to e aaged ad eplaied,
looked at and looked into, and gradually placed in a context constructed from our
interpretations of other objects, events, and stories
Our study of the past says as much about us as it does the past we try to study & texts help us
understand their context as much as contexts help us understand texts
Poet Ahiald MaLeish isisted that a poe should ot ea/ But e.
Objects and events the Sutton Hoo ship burial, Durham Cathedral, the Magna Carta, the Black
Death of the 14th cen.- positively hum with meaning and intention and human consequences;
they are inextricably caught in the web of signification and interpretation
Objects go beyond their use and basic definition to include contextual implications and function
within society
CHI-RHO page of the early 8th cen. Lindisfarne Gospels intertwines many cultures (English, Irish,
& Latin) as well as being a beautiful gospel work
o Reciprocal relationship of text and context
For readers of early lit, assumptions are solid, opaque, at time impenetrable; they need to be
understood as they are written and contextually
We refer to the millennium following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th cen. CE as 1
peiod, the Middle Ages. At the ed of this falls the Reaissae eithth 16th cen.)
which marks the final flowering of medieval culture
o Where historians in the Renaissance saw difference and divisions, historians of the
period tend to see continuity and development
Before the Norman Conquest
Celts in Medieval Britain and Ireland
Laguages likel eloged to  of  goups of Isula Celti laguages i.e., those spoke o
the islad, distiguishig the fo othe Celti laguages spoke duig the fist illeiu
BCE throughout much of continental Europe).
Celtic languages like OE & Latin belong to the Indo-European family languages but have non-
Indo-European elements (Gaelic, Welsh, Cornish, and Brits)
Roman Britain
Romans invaded & conquered much of Britain in the 1st cen. CE & over next 4 cen. Were
successful in establishing admin structures
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