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Guest Speaker: Jocelyn Wogan-Browne

Friday, November 8, 2013 – 3:00 pm
Graduate Center, CUNY – room 5409

Utility French and the Making of English Literate Culture

In recent years, historical socio-linguistics and attention to manuscript culture have broadened our approach to ‘literary history,’  and re-contexualised our post-medieval term, ‘literature’.  These perspectives help to bring into view a broader spectrum of medieval writings and to trouble boundaries between the literary and the documentary.  This paper will explore the new rush to textuality, to writing down disciplinary, occupational, and technical knowledge in treatises, compilations, and encyclopaedias across the thirteenth century in England.   Literary scholars have tended to focus study of utilitarian writing, as also of bureaucratic and documentary cultures, on Anglophone writings in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but these texts form only one strand of a more complicated multilingual story.

Jocelyn Wogan-Browne,
Thomas F. X. and Teresa Mullarkey Chair of Literature,
English Department,
Fordham University