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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 901: Annual Medieval Academy of America Lecture: Manuscript Edges, Marginal Time: Why Medieval Matters (Language: English)

Tuesday 5 July 2016, 19.00-20.00

Sponsor:Medieval Academy of America
Introduction:Helen Fulton, Department of English, University of Bristol
Speaker:Elaine Treharne, Department of English, Stanford University

In an Early English manuscript, a later marginal addition in French that is unedited and untranslated turns out to be potentially the earliest avian verse fable in a vernacular of medieval England. The poem is quite likely to be written by a woman at an institution that took ownership of the manuscript perhaps fifty or more years after its production.

This one example of text, like all instances of interventions by contemporary and later manuscript perusers, reminds us of the centrality of the marginal, the fundamental significance of that which exists on the periphery. Here, a poem - elsewhere a note, a name, a sequence of ink dots - signifies not the insignificant; rather, the space around the manuscript’s initial contents becomes a site of discovery. The biggest discovery, though, as this talk will show, is what medieval books can teach modern scholarship about the nature of its own categories, hierarchies, chronologies, biases, and myopia. This lecture will demonstrate that a persistent fixation on the centre, the original, the canonical, the literary period, and the new, frequently misses the mark, revealing only a partial story, despite the fuller evidence available to us from our extant textual objects.

About the Medieval Academy of America:
The Medieval Academy is pleased once again to host the Annual Medieval Academy Lecture, an opportunity for the Academy to showcase some of the important work being done by scholars in North America. We hope you will join us for a reception immediately following the lecture, where members of the Medieval Academy staff will be available to answer questions about the Academy and its work. For more information about the Academy, please see All those attending are warmly invited to join members of the Medieval Academy after the lecture for a glass of wine.

Please note that admission to this event will be on a first-come, first-served basis as there will be no tickets. Please ensure that you arrive as early as possible to avoid disappointment.