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Title: The world's ear : the aurality of late medieval English literature
Author: Coleman, Joyce
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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This thesis examines the reception formats of late medieval upper-class literature in English--i.e., how its readers read it. My particular interest is aurality, the reading aloud of literature to one or a group of listeners. I try to show that aurality was not merely the byproduct of technological deficiencies (such as illiteracy and the scarcity of manuscripts) but also represented a contemporary preference for the shared experience of literature. Chapter 1 reviews the evolutionary and polarizing assumptions that underlie, and undermine, many discussions of late medieval, particularly Chaucerian, reception. The popular argument I call 'fictive orality' claims, for example, that Chaucer's references to hearers derive from nostalgia or else are an involuntary holdover of 'minstrel formulas'. But if Chaucer's texts were read aloud, as he keeps assuming they will be, there is nothing 'nostalgic' or anachronistic about references to hearers. Chapter 2 outlines the methodology used to construct the following chapters' 'ethnography of reading', then presents a variety of generalizations to frame the intensive data presented in those chapters. Topics considered include the chronological and functional origins of medieval aurality, the varieties of late medieval English literacy, the role of aurality in generating a public sphere, the 'constellation' of reception-phrases characteristic of late medieval texts, and the crossover of scholarly reading practices into recreational ones.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available