Search results

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.

Abstract only
Harley manuscript geographies
Daniel Birkholz

of ‘literary geography’ helps reveal the dynamics by which literary history, codicological form, and cultural geography intertwine. Recent work across a number of disciplines has established that the concept of space plays a key role in determining social relations. Edward Soja, a political geographer and urban theorist whose work treats contemporary Los Angeles, has emphasized the benefits of observing ‘human beings making their own geographies, and being constrained by what they have made’. 5 Despite the distance between urban studies and literary medievalism

in Harley manuscript geographies
The implications of mobility
Daniel Birkholz

in the first half of the fourteenth century but extended over time, this chapter, like each of those following, offers a Harley manuscript case study in the intersection of geography and literature, or what my Introduction termed ‘literary geography’. Patterns of medieval mobility—human, textual, and imaginative—will be shown, in their interlocked dynamics, to offer new perspectives on the geographical assumptions (what is ‘cosmopolitan’? what is ‘provincial’?) that have helped drive modern assessments of premodern poetic achievement. This assertion contains a

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

Wistan of Wistanstow (#116, fol. 140v). Genres tend to clump together in period miscellanies, but these texts stand apart from one another in the Harley manuscript—perhaps because they serve a structural role: as bookend-frames, or textual-architectural pillars for the collection. It is central to the literary geography of Harley 2253 that these are Diocese of Hereford vitae , and that they appear at the outset and (two) conclusion(s) of its codicological project. England’s other St Thomas Thomas Becket would seem to have little competition in his role as

in Harley manuscript geographies
Abstract only
Tamsin Badcoe

, ‘Species of Spaces’, Georges Perec offers a system for classifying the relationship between space, writing, and the imagination. Perec’s own prose, which is sensitive to the practices of geography and the mutability of worldly experience, seeks to find a series of expressions for the provisional quality implicit in textual and spatial encounters. In the epigraph quoted above, he describes the capacity of the written word to retain something of the world: a process that can be recognised in the various literary geographies of Edmund Spenser’s work. 3 It has long been

in Edmund Spenser and the romance of space
Abstract only
Tamsin Badcoe

the potential for flux. It has been beyond the scope of this study to address the literary geographies of Irish writings in any depth, even though the place-making strategies of dindshenchas offer a practice of binding place, name, and memory in ways that both anchor and orientate; I mention the tradition here to evoke the gulf between the Edmund Spenser who lived and worked in Ireland and the utopian Spenser, capable of being at home within Irish literary customs, imagined by the Anglo-Irish poet Yeats. 4 Although my key intertexts

in Edmund Spenser and the romance of space
Abstract only
Deborah Youngs

trends in academic study have enhanced greatly our understanding of both the provincial gentry and regional culture. Historians have headed into the provinces to provide a number of studies of the regional gentry. From the literary side, there has been a growing interest in manuscripts and their provenance, especially in relation to placing literature within context, and attempts at mapping literary geographies. 11 This research

in Gentry culture in late-medieval England
Zalfa Feghali

’, Callaloo 33:2 (2010): pp. 498–​520, at p. 500. 13 Michiko Kakutani, ‘Travails of an Outcast’ (4 September 2007). www.nytimes.com/​2007/​09/​04/​books/​04Diaz.html (accessed 11 October 2015). 14 Maria del Pilar Blanco, ‘Reading the Novum World: The Literary Geography of Science Fiction in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’, in Surveying the American Tropics: A Literary Geography from New York to Rio, ed. Maria Cristina Fumigalli, Peter Hulme, Owen Robinson, and Leslie Wylie (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013), pp. 49–​74, at p. 50. 15

in Crossing borders and queering citizenship
Abstract only
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
Abstract only
Harley 2253 and the Jews of medieval Hereford
Daniel Birkholz

regionality and that larger amalgam of English political/devotional identity with which it interfaces. But Chapter 2 will also interrogate the ‘textual mappings’ we have so far encountered, in order to account for—and take literary-geographical stock of—the traumatic expulsion of 1290. Those whom King Edward and Bishop Swinfield expel as threats to Christian community, produce in others—who dwelt in closer congress with Anglo-Jews—responses to difference that are, if not benign, at least less uniformly intolerant. A generation after the forced departure of Herefordshire

in Harley manuscript geographies