Last lyric things
Daniel Birkholz

how Harley 2253, a pre -plague miscellany, engages with the spatial challenges that mortality raises in a manner divergent from how post -plague compilations do, requires that we attend to later formulations about the meaning of dying. Harley items that dance with death (or relocate us spiritually by means of it) are never far to seek, anywhere in the book’s fifteen quires and 140+ folios. But neither do we encounter, in this ebullient collection, quite so morbid an obsession with coming endyngs as will haunt later imaginations. Pestilence casts a powerful

in Harley manuscript geographies
Author: Daniel Birkholz

This study brings emergent methodologies of literary geography to bear upon the unique contents—or more to the point, the moving, artful, frequently audacious contents—of a codex known as London, British Library MS Harley 2253. The Harley manuscript was produced in provincial Herefordshire, in England’s Welsh Marches, by a scribe whose literary generation was wiped out in the Black Death of 1348–1351. It contains a diverse set of writings: love-lyrics and devotional texts, political songs and fabliaux, saints’ lives, courtesy literature, bible narratives, travelogues, and more. These works alternate between languages (Middle English, Anglo-Norman, and Latin), but have been placed in mutually illuminating conversation. Following an Introduction that explores how this fragmentary miscellany keeps being sutured into ‘whole’-ness by commentary upon it, individual chapters examine different genres, topics, and social groupings. Readers from literary history, medieval studies, cultural geography, gender studies, Jewish studies, book history, and more, will profit from the encounter.

Harley 2253 is famous as medieval books go, thanks to its celebrated roster of lyrics, fabliaux, and political songs, and owing to the scarcity of material extant from this ‘in-between’ period in insular literary history. England’s post-Conquest/pre-plague era remains dimly known. Despite such potential, there has never been a monograph published on Harley 2253. Harley Manuscript Geographies orients readers to this compelling material by describing the phenomenon of the medieval miscellany in textual and codicological terms. But another task it performs is to lay out grounds for approaching this compilation via the interpretive lens that cultural geography provides.

London, British Library MS Harley 2253 and the traffic of texts
Rory Critten

219 10 The multilingual English household in a European perspective: London, British Library MS Harley 2253 and the traffic of texts Rory G. Critten Compiled largely in the 1330s, London, British Library MS Harley 2253 transmits a collection of materials in verse and prose, ranging from saints’ lives, biblical paraphrase, and works of practical religion, to conduct literature, political satire, pilgrimage guides, a romance, lyric poetry in English (the ‘Harley Lyrics’) and French, and a selection of fabliaux.1 It contains texts in each of England’s main

in Household knowledges in late-medieval England and France
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Harley manuscript geographies
Daniel Birkholz

If you had to choose just one codex with which to encapsulate English literary culture during the century prior to the Black Death (1348–1351), odds are it would be this one: that is, the 1330s Ludlow-area miscellany known, from its shelf-mark, as London, British Library (BL) MS Harley 2253. 1 Considering that ‘[its] loss would wipe out our knowledge of whole areas’ of literary history, in 1977 Derek Pearsall ranked Harley 2253 (‘with BL Cotton Nero A.x’, the Gawain manuscript) as our ‘most important single manuscript of Middle English poetry’. 2 Twenty

in Harley manuscript geographies
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Ye goon to … Hereford? Regional devotion and England’s other St Thomas
Daniel Birkholz

My Introduction proposed that Harley 2253, a book of extraordinary diversity, gets sutured together—crafted into a unified wholeness—by those who read it. It also noted how Harley Manuscript Geographies would, like previous books on the codex miscellany, itself tend towards miscellaneity. These points had their basis in literary materialism, as seen in my delineation of thirteen ‘Aspects of the miscellany’ as a codicological form. But to survey the Harley manuscript also requires tools from cultural geography. One inspiration for my study can be found in

in Harley manuscript geographies
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Harley 2253 and the Jews of medieval Hereford
Daniel Birkholz

canonized in 1320. The Epilogue to this book will explore the relationship between regional devotion (as located in Cantilupe’s Hereford Cathedral shrine) and the literary-compilational project of the Harley manuscript (as described in my Introduction ). Chapter 1 featured the mobile lives of Hereford Diocese clerks during the early fourteenth century, in the context of the group solidarity and regional-cosmopolitan geographies that the love lyrics of Harley 2253 make manifest. The present chapter, like these others, builds upon the tension between ecclesiastical

in Harley manuscript geographies
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The counterfactual lessons of Gilote et Johane
Daniel Birkholz

miscellany, and what scholars deem worthy of investigation, is not always the same. In addition to registering absence and presence, preceding chapters have foregrounded questions of mobility—human, artefactual, imaginative—in seeking to ascertain the workings of literary geography within and with respect to Harley 2253. The professional itinerancy of Chapter 1 ’s Hereford clerics has sobering contrast in the legal restrictions placed upon the movements of Chapter 2 ’s Herefordshire Jews, even prior to their 1290 expulsion. Chapter 1 ’s Middle English love-lyrics and

in Harley manuscript geographies
The implications of mobility
Daniel Birkholz

English corpus, to the extent that the secular lyrics preserved in Harley 2253 account for some half of those extant. The Harley Lyrics are also unusual for their French influence, but these are not limp derivatives. Better to speak of cultural alloy: the Harley Lyrics recast continental conventions and generic models into an insular, alliterative, colloquial, even ‘homey’ mode. 7 Like so much early vernacular writing, the Harley Lyrics are indebted to ecclesiastical learning and Latin rhetoric; hence their staple passages of point-by-point bodily description and their

in Harley manuscript geographies
Editors: Glenn Burger and Rory Critten

This collection of nine new chapters investigates how the late medieval household acts as a sorter, user, and disseminator of different kinds of ready information, from the traditional and authoritative to the innovative and newly made. Building on established work on the noble and royal ‘great household’, as well as on materialist historiography on rural and bourgeois domestic life, Household Knowledges considers bourgeois, gentry, and collegiate households on both sides of the English Channel. Arguing that the relationship between the domestic experience and the forms assumed by that experience’s cultural expression is both dynamic and reciprocal, the chapters in this volume address a range of cultural productions, including conduct texts, romances and comic writing, agricultural and estates management literature, devotional and medical writing, household music and drama, and manuscript anthologies. Contributors develop a range of methodologies, drawing on insights generated by recent manuscript scholarship as well as on innovations in affect theory and object relations theory; their chapters reconsider the constitution of the late-medieval urban and gentry home by practices of writing and reading, translation and language use, and manuscript compilation, as well as by the development of complex object–human relations and the adaptation of traditional gender and class roles. Together, the studies compiled in Household Knowledges provide a fresh illustration of the imaginative scope of the late medieval household, of its extensive internal and external connections, and of its fundamental centrality—both as an idea and a reality—to late-medieval cultural production.

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The home life of information
Glenn Burger and Rory Critten

. Finally, the propensity of medieval household books to demonstrate the external connections of the household, as well as its internal tastes and priorities, is examined in Rory G. Critten’s contribution to the volume, ‘The Multilingual English Household in a European Perspective: London, British Library MS Harley 2253 and the Traffic of Texts’. To date, scholarship on Harley 2253 has sought to determine how this fourteenth-​century book might have served the interests and priorities of a small group of West Midlands families with which its scribe can be identified

in Household knowledges in late-medieval England and France