Some Major Middle English Poetic Manuscripts and their Marginalia
Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Notre Dame University
Were the works of Langland and Chaucer as controversial for their earliest readers, as politically or religiously dangerous, as we imagine? Were they considered learned or just edifying or entertaining? Were their literary complexities and allusions appreciated or missed by first-generation readers, even famous readers like Gower and Hoccleve? These are just a few questions manuscript studies can help answer. Kerby-Fulton will examine glosses and marginalia of manuscripts of Chaucer and Langland, with comparison to glossing of two contemporary London poets: Gower, a friend and rival of Chaucer’s, and Hoccleve, a disciple and famous Middle English scribe. The Newberry Library owns glossed manuscripts of both Gower’s and Hoccleve’s works, among other Middle English codices that deserve new scholarly attention, so this paper will also offer context for further study of intriguing items in the library’s collection.
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