Heather Blatt
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Reading materially
John Lydgate’s ‘Soteltes for the coronation banquet of Henry VI’

Mobility, alongside aural, textual, gestural, and performative meaning, becomes the focus of this chapter’s examination of John Lydgate’s “Sotelties for the Coronation Banquet of Henry VI.” Subtleties were presented at the 1429 Coronation banquet accompanied by verses composed by John Lydgate, which were performed as they were moved through the Great Hall at Westminster. This chapter argues that reading can be understood as an act that requires not simply participation through the apprehension of a textual message either visually or aurally—the most basic understanding of medieval literacy—but as an act that requires familiarity with other, material modes of meaning-making, all deliberately drawn on to invite and shape readers’ relations to the text. Drawing on understandings of forensic and formal materiality developed to evaluate digital works, this chapter intervenes in assessments of medieval materiality to offer a fresh framework for its analysis.

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