Reorienting the narrative of digital media studies to incorporate the medieval, Participatory reading in late-medieval England traces affinities between digital and medieval media to explore how participation defined reading practices and shaped relations between writers and readers in England’s literary culture from the late-fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries. Traditionally, print operates as the comparative touchstone of both medieval and digital media, but Participatory reading argues that the latter share more in common with each other than either does with print. Working on the borders of digital humanities, medieval cultural studies, and the history of the book, Participatory reading draws on well-known and little-studied works ranging from Chaucer to banqueting poems and wall-texts to demonstrate how medieval writers and readers engaged with practices familiar in digital media today, from crowd-sourced editing to nonlinear apprehension to mobility, temporality, and forensic materiality illuminate. Writers turned to these practices in order to both elicit and control readers’ engagement with their works in ways that would benefit the writers’ reputations along with the transmission and interpretation of their texts, while readers pursued their own agendas—which could conflict with or set aside writers’ attempts to frame readers’ work. The interactions that gather around participatory reading practices reflect concerns about authority, literacy, and media formats, before and after the introduction of print. Participatory reading is of interest to students and scholars of medieval literature, book, and reading history, in addition to those interested in the long history of media studies.
The idea for European Gothic: A Spirited Exchange 1760-1960 emerged from a conference entitled ‘Beyond Boundaries II: New Europe ... Pan Europe? Trajectories and Destinations’, organized by the European Studies Research Institute and held at the University of Salford in 1999.I would like to thank all those delegates who attended the ‘Gothic’ stream of this conference for the lively debates which they generated during the event and for their enthusiastic insistence that the moment had come for a book such as this. Thanks also to the anonymous reader whose constructive advice helped me make many improvements to the text. Matthew Frost, of Manchester University Press, has been – as always – a source of excellent advice and cheerful encouragement since the book’s inception. Finally, many thanks to Terry Hale, Geoff Harris and Ursula Tidd, who commented on various sections of the book in draft form, and to Howard for helping me, yet again, to unravel the mysteries of information technology.