front cover of Classroom Commentaries
Classroom Commentaries
Teaching the Poetria nova across Medieval and Renaissance Europe
Marjorie Curry Woods
The Ohio State University Press, 2009
With an unusually broad scope encompassing how Europeans taught and learned reading and writing at all levels, Classroom Commentaries: Teaching the Poetria Nova across Medieval and Renaissance Europe provides a synoptic picture of medieval and early modern instruction in rhetoric, poetics, and composition theory and practice. As Marjorie Curry Woods convincingly argues, the decision of Geoffrey of Vinsauf (fl. 1200) to write his rhetorical treatise in verse resulted in a unique combination of rhetorical doctrine, poetic examples, and creative exercises that proved malleable enough to inspire teachers for three centuries.
Based on decades of research, this book excerpts, translates, and analyzes teachers’ notes and commentaries in the more than two hundred extant manuscripts of the text. We learn the reasons for the popularity of the Poetria nova among medieval and early Renaissance teachers, how prose as well as verse genres were taught, why the Poetria nova was a required text in central European universities, its attractions for early modern scholars and historians, and how we might still learn from it today. Woods’ monumental achievement will allow modern scholars to see the Poetria nova as earlier Europeans did: a witty and perennially popular text central to the experience of almost every student.

front cover of Collaborative Meaning in Medieval Scribal Culture
Collaborative Meaning in Medieval Scribal Culture
The Otho La3amon
Elizabeth J. Bryan
University of Michigan Press, 1999
Before the technology of print, every book was unique. Two manuscripts of the "same" text could package and transmit that text very differently, depending on the choices made by scribes, compilers, translators, annotators, and decorators. Is it appropriate, Elizabeth Bryan asks, for us to read these books as products of a single author's consciousness? And if not, how do we read them?
In Collaborative Meaning in Medieval Scribal Culture, Bryan compares examples from the British Library Cotton Otho C.xiii manuscript of La3amon's Brut, the early thirteenth-century verse history that translated King Arthur into English for the first time. She discovers cultural attitudes that valued communal aspects of manuscript texts--for example, a view of the physical book as connecting all who read or even held it to each other.
The study is divided into two parts. Part one presents Early Middle English concepts of "enjoining" texts and explores the theoretical and methodological challenges they pose to present-day readers of scribally-produced texts. Part two conducts a detailed study of the multiple interpretations built into the manuscript text. Illustrations of manuscript pages accompany analysis, and the reader is invited to engage in interpreting the manuscript text.
Collaborative Meaning in Medieval Scribal Culture will be of interest to students and specialists in medieval chronicle histories, Middle English, Arthurian literature, and literary and textual theory.
Elizabeth J. Bryan is Associate Professor of English, Brown University.

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