Paper a: For American college students today, the mixture of piety and power embedded in Henry’s rhetoric has misleading connotations. I argue that the translator’s or teacher’s attention to the characteristic syntax, not just vocabulary, imagery, or themes, of Henry’s Livre best resolves misunderstandings of the work’s tone and meanings. Henry’s syntax is intricate, fluid, and marked by frequent melding of discrete syntactical patterns, more often characteristic of spoken than written language. This Lancastrian syntax is best characterized, in Richard Lanham’s terms, as a style that is paratactic, verbal, ‘running’ (rather than periodic); voiced, ‘backstage’, and transparent. Syntax, and its analysis and description, provides a key for the American reader’s encounter with the Lancastrian text.
Paper b: This paper examines the relationship between several early English printers (Caxton, de Worde, Pynson) and two of their female patrons. Both Margaret of York (responsible in part for the first book printed in English) and Lady Margaret Beaufort (the first English woman in print) maintained a cultural cachet as avid readers of devotional literature. Recognising their crucial role in the movement of books from the court to the urban household accelerated by the emergence of the printing press, I argue that both the printers and their patrons sought to use the demand for books to their advantage. To what extent, in what ways, and with what results is my subject.
Paper c: Sometime before the mid 14th century a number of vernacular translations or adaptations of the Lives of internationally popular saints were produced in Wales. Most of these bucheddau (including the Lives of Katherine of Alexandria, Margaret of Antioch and Mary of Egypt) have been edited. However, the Middle Welsh Life of Martha has not previously been edited and only one version of the Middle Welsh Life of Mary Magdalene, based on a relatively late manuscript (Peniarth 225), has been published. This paper discusses a project supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council which involves producing editions and translations of Buched Meir Vadlen and Buched Martha and making these Middle Welsh hagiographical texts available to a wider international audience. The idiosyncrasies of the Welsh Lives will be discussed and a comparison made between the different versions. By considering the context and transfer of the texts and their particular relevance to the lay household a tentative picture can begin to be sketched of their popularity, audience and usage within medieval Wales.
Paper d: Translation as fidelity and betrayal, or obedience and subversion – how far can this model be applied to devotional literature? While it is true that Middle English translations of Latin religious treatises are relatively ‘faithful’ to the originals, and the translators are not as self-conscious of their translative projects as writers such as Chaucer and Gower, these Middle English translations can also be regarded as more than mere replicas of the original texts. This paper will examine the Middle English Mirror of Holy Church translated from the Speculum Ecclesie by Edmund of Abingdon, and attempt to capture moments when the translator invents an entirely new pedagogical sphere without consciously aspiring to the prestige of the Latin language.