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This project is concerned with late-medieval Dutch text collections featuring short verse narratives. Seen from a European perspective, the Dutch tradition shows intriguing characteristics. There are no major collections of short stories in Middle Dutch that are comparable to, for example, the English romance manuscripts or the German ‘Maeren’ manuscripts. Many Dutch text collections contain a short verse narrative but most miscellanies have only one or two. To analyse this specifically Dutch situation in a European context, two PhD students will follow two complementary and converging lines of research. (1) The first focuses on those manuscripts which contain, in addition to other texts, at least five different short verse narratives. (2) The second one is concerned with some specific short verse narratives which appear in three or more manuscripts.
The Viennese research team works mainly on Middle High German miscellanies containing ‘Mären’. These profane short novelistic texts are found mostly alongside other short verse texts such as religious, didactic, or legendary tales, and texts with low narrative content. In our current research we focus on the following areas:
- We seek to describe the different types of manuscript and their role in transmission of these highly mobile texts. Ultimately, this typology will lead to a revision of our knowledge about the social interactions behind these manuscripts.
- Using case-studies concerning individual manuscripts on the one hand and single texts in different contexts on the other, we want to establish the role of context.
- We will do research on the process of authorization (and de-authorization) that takes place in the transmission of certain texts and authors. This process can be observed on different textual and codicological levels (explicit, rubrics, tables of content, marginalia).
The aim of this project is to consider the French medieval miscellany as an instrument for cultural exchange and identity formation, by concentrating on the contextualisation and re-contextualisation of short narratives in manuscript collections dating from the 13th to the 15th centuries. We shall be analysing the physical construction of and organisational principles behind miscellanies, the ways in which the narratives themselves are adapted to new contexts, and the extent to which they interpellate different types of readers. In the process we shall reassess our understanding of author, text and genre as applied to medieval French literature. One graduate student will study a selection of Anglo-Norman and Continental French miscellanies containing several short narratives and dating from all three centuries under review, thus enabling us to take geographical and temporal factors into account. The second student will analyse the evolving manuscript context of the short exemplary narrative La Chastelaine de Vergi. This text raises interesting interpretive issues concerning courtly ideology, gender and Christian morality, and finds itself in an unusual range of contexts in the c. 20 extant manuscripts dating from the 13th to the 15th centuries.
This IP focuses on the textual histories of the shorter Middle English metrical romances and their readers. Since with rare exceptions, the Middle English verse romances have come down to us in mixed text collections, they form an ideal point of entry for the study of miscellanies in the English
context. The unifying concept of this IP is that the medieval miscellany is dynamic, and that this dynamism needs to be understood in three ways:
- codicologically, as an aspect of the history of manuscript production;
- structurally, as an effect of the miscellany’s internal organization;
- diachronically, as belonging to a crucial transitional phase in the history of the book.