The French of England: Anglo-Norman in a Multilingual Culture

Taught by Dr. Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Fall 2017

This outline lists the principal texts (not the selected secondary reading) for each week’s seminar in Fall 2017: individual seminar introductions, detailed plans and discussion topics with further bibliography will be issued as briefing sheets in advance for each week.

The classes take 3 hours (including a short pizza break). The weekly literary seminar will be c. 1.5 hours, following the weekly linguistic practicum (also c. 1.5 hours), which will use translation examples from the seminar reading. The schedule given below enables you to plan your own primary reading and to think about which topics you would like to present on: however if I have set too much or too little, we may decide on some minor modifications.

The question of different levels of Old French experience is handled according to the particularities of each course’s participants, most commonly by sharing the grammar part of the practicum but dividing the translation to be done in it into passages for the more and the less experienced. Very experienced students who need little of the week’s grammar work pursue other activities such as transcribing a digitized version of their text for translation and comparing that with the edited text as they translate.

For required texts and preliminary reading please see the attached list. Please also be sure to obtain the texts for at least the first few seminars ASAP so you can get ahead with your reading preparation.

Assessment will be by:

  1. class attendance and contribution, including short (c. 5 minutes) presentations to open up discussion of a topic.
  2. linguistic exercises/quizzes/translations done in or for the practicum (including a diagnostic linguistic exercise done for Week 5 which is not formally counted in your grade but used to check your grasp of grammar). 
  3. an exercise in textual methods, done to a deadline in your own time, not as an exam, and due in the week before Thanksgiving): for instance, a formal explication de texte on a short set passage, combining linguistic and literary analysis; a detailed comparison between a French and an Old English or Middle English text of some relation, actual or proposed, to each other; a short passage in a single manuscript transcription, with translation and commentary. 
  4. a final substantial project: this may take various forms (to be decided in consultation), including a conventional long essay.  Depending on your choice of topic and theme, other activities such as editing and translating may form part of your project.  Due at the end of the course. 

Note: in the list below, VLT refers to Vernacular Literary Theory from the French of England: Texts and Translations, c. 1120-c. 1450, ed. J. Wogan-Browne, T. Fenster, D. W. Russell (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2016, ebook 2017 pprbk 2018). Individual extracts can be downloaded as single items from the ebook in the library. FRETS refers to the French of England Translation Series, volumes from which are listed on the FoE website, and will be detailed on seminar bibliographies as needed.

Week One Sept 5th Seminar 1
Introductory Practicum: Hearing Anglo-Norman, Seeing Anglo-Norman Orthography.
Seminar: The French of England and Multilingualism. (see document on preliminary reading).

Week Two Sept 12th Seminar 2: Reading the world: paradigms of interpretation and the place of the human
Short extracts from Philippe de Thaon, Le Bestiaire (between 1121-35), St Edmund of Canterbury, Mirour de seynte Eglyse (early C13th, VLT), Richard de Fournival, Bestiaire d’amours (mid C13th), Marie de France, Bisclaveret [Marie de France’s short narrative lai, Bisclaveret -a name for a werewolf- is trans. Burgess and Busby, other text-extracts supplied in scans, photocopy or on A-res].

Week Three Sept 19th: Seminar 3: Hearing, reading, seeing in manuscript culture
Matthew Paris, The History of St Edward the King, (Estoire de Seint Aedward le rei in Cambridge University Library, MS Ee. III.59 (FRETS).

Week Four Sept 27th Seminar 4: Regnum and diaspora: framing histories for England and Britain
Wace, Roman de Brut, (1155) (substantial extract); Débat des herauts (1453-61) (short extract, VLT).

Week Five Oct 3rd Seminar 5: Models of translation and translatio Gaimar, Estoire des Engleis (1136-7 or 1141-50) short extract, VLT, and Waldef prologue (late C12th), VLT: Marie de France, Prologue to the Lais (late C12th), Secré de secreez prologue (C13th), VLT, Scalacronica prologue (mid C14th), VLT.
Short Translation and grammar parsing exercise due at this week’s practicum.

Week Six Oct 10th Seminar 6: Queering lineage and inheritance: hagiographic lives
La vie de seinte Fey (early C13th, St Faith, prose trans. Russell, FRETS) and La Vie de saint Gilles (late C12th, St Giles, prose trans. Russell, FRETS) (1242 and 3794 short verse lines respectively).

Week Seven Oct 17th Seminar 7: Redemptive justice and the powers of the lord
Grosseteste, The Castle of Love (c. 1230-53, prose trans. Boulton in Piety and Persecution, FRETS: 30 printed pages, but takes intensive reading). Short extract from The Mirroir des Justices (early C14th, before 1328).

Week Eight Oct 24th Seminar 8: Dispute resolution: intimate others
Chanson de Roland (MS 1130-1170, ed. and trans. Brault).

Week Nine Oct 31st Seminar 9: Insular romance: thinking Europe
Gui de Warewic (C13th, trans. Weiss, FRETS: substantial verse romance- over 12,000 short lines- in prose translation).

Week Ten Nov 7th Seminar 10: Passion and Piety
Nicole Bozon, Coment le fiz Deu fut armé (late C13th/early C14th) short poem; “A woman’s prayer” (earlier C13th, from Cher Alme collection, FRETS, short prose piece). Short lyric and macaronic works (supplied in scans and photocopies).
Literary-linguistic exercise due in at this meeting.

Week Eleven Nov 14th Seminar 11: Imagining the Jews in English Christianity
The Enfanz Jesu and its images (in Boulton, Piety and Persecution, FRETS), Guillaume le clerc, Bestiaire divin (extracts, FRETS) and readings on the history of the Jews in England (all short texts or short extracts).

Week Twelve, Nov 21st Seminar 12: Social satire in Chaucer’s tri-lingual England
Bozon, extracts from Char d’Orgueil; John Gower, Miroir de l’omme (1360s-1379?) extracts.

Note: Before Thanksgiving, you need to make an individual appointment with JWB to discuss what your final project is to be. This is designed to kickstart your thinking: there will be an opportunity for a second appointment to report progress and develop the project in Week Thirteen before you outline your project to the group in a short presentation in Week Fourteen.

[Thanksgiving, Wed 22nd-Sun 27th Nov]

Week Thirteen Nov 28th Seminar 13: No Seminar: mandatory individual consultations.

Week Fourteen Dec 5th Seminar 14: Presentation of individual projects to the seminar group (attendance and presentation mandatory).

Week Fifteen Dec 12th
Final Projects: due by 7pm on Dec 12th.

Dec 20th Final day of exams. Grades to be entered by this date (usually several days earlier for anyone graduating in the New Year).

French of England, Fall 2017

Preliminary Reading

Note: Linguistic practicum: please always bring your copies of Einhorn, Old French: A Concise Handbook (Cambridge University Press paperback: 1974 and reprints) to each week’s practicum.

Preliminary Seminar Reading

  1. Michael Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record: England 1066-1307, 3rd edition Oxford, Blackwell, 2013: on line/print (especially Part II, The Literate Mentality, with an introduction ‘What Reading Meant’, and chapters on Languages of Record; Literate and Illiterate; Hearing and Seeing; Trusting Writing).
  2. Baswell, Stein, and Warren: Although there had been earlier work on multilingualism (notably the ground-breaking collection edited by David Trotter, Multilingualism in later Medieval England, 2000), the interaction of language and literature reaches a new platform and an important bench mark for literary scholars in a trio of chapters published in Middle English: Oxford Approaches to Twenty-First Century Literature Series, ed. Paul Strohm (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). Robert M. Stein’s chapter, ‘Multilingualism’ gives a good short thought-provoking account of how the nation-state paradigm affects the formation of literary canons and where we are now, while Christopher Baswell, ‘Multilingualism on the Page’, and Michelle R. Warren, ‘Translation’, Ch 5 of the same volume, pp. 52-67 are invaluable for the rethinking of how we read manuscript pages and how we conceptualize literature and textuality in the period.
  3. Tyler and Gaunt: Two significant articles offering new ways of conceiving literary-linguistic relations and with important implications for literary history are: (a)Elizabeth M. Tyler, ‘From Old English to Old French’ in Wogan-Browne et al, ed. Language and Culture in Medieval Britain: The French of England, c. 1100-c. 1500 (2009), pp. 164-78. Important for anyone interested in Old English and very important if you think the Norman Conquest brought French culture to Anglo-Saxon England and made it international. (b)Simon Gaunt, ‘French Literature Abroad: Towards an Alternative History of French Literature,’ Interfaces 1 (2015): online journal: (Important article by a leading continental specialist who also works in Anglo-Norman/the French of England and who rethinks models for literary study appropriate to the actual geo-political configurations of medieval Europe rather than those of the C19th nation state in which the university study of post-classical languages took shape).
  4. Butterfield: The most important monograph study of recent years is by Ardis Butterfield, The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and Nation in the Hundred Years War (Oxford, 2010, online and print). This brilliant study not only deals with the C14th and C15th, but incorporates much thought and information about earlier multilingualism in England, so is specially recommended (even if you are primarily interested in the high middle ages of the C11th -C13th rather than the C14th-15th), for the subtlety of its thinking about language and multilingualism.

Extended List of background and general reading  (by associated disciplines and by period). (not a list of what you need to read before the course!  But worth reading through the list itself to get a sense of what’s out there and what might be starting points for your own particular interests).

Note: Until just a few years ago, all I could specify on this list was Clanchy’s great book,  From Memory to Written Record (see above) in its earlier iterations, and Susan Crane’s excellent chapter “Anglo-Norman Cultures” in Wallace’s Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature of 1999. The recent exponential growth of French of England and the integration of multilingual paradigms enables me now to suggest some useful background reading wherever your interests center in the long presence of francophone language and literature in England.

(i) C9th-12th Bruce R. O’Brien, Reversing Babel: Translation among the English during an Age of Conquests, c. 800-c. 1200 (Delaware: University of Newark Press, 2011).  Though a little light on French exemplification, French is fully acknowledged, so a break-through book for this period. 

(ii) Elizabeth Salter’s classic work, English and International: Studies in the Literature, Art and Patronage of Medieval England has been re-issued in paperback (ed. Derek Pearsall and Nicolette Zeeman) by Cambridge University Press, 2010: it is still a classic account of multilingual and supra-regional literary and artistic culture in England. The 1988 edition is in Walsh, and a copy of the 2010 edition will be put on reserve for the semester. Part I (chs. 1-3) is the part to read for this course: it sets the cultural patterns for the C11th-13th and helps in reading forwards into the C14th-15th (rather than reading by hindsight as in the old teleological nationalizing paradigms). 

(iii) for manuscripts, there is now Ian Short, Maria Careri, Christine Ruby’s and Ian Short’s Livres et écritures en français et en Occitan au XIIe siècle: catalogue illustrć (Rome: Viella, 2011) to add to François Avril and Patricia Danz Stirnemann, Manuscrits enluminés d’origine insulaire VIIe-XXe siècle (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale, 1987).  These are excellent catalogues with valuable manuscript descriptions. For a study of image-text interaction that shows the vitality of medieval religious culture and includes among its merits being transregional as between insular and continental manuscripts, see Aden Kumler’s terrific Translating Truth: Ambitious Images and Religious Knowledge in Late Medieval France and England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).

(iv) The main introduction to Wogan-Browne et al, eds, Language and Culture in Medieval Britain: The French of England c. 1100-c. 1500 (Boydell and Brewer with York Medieval Press, 2009) pp. 1-13 will tell you about the history of the field of FoE and where we are now: various chapters from this volume open more detailed windows into particular times and ways in which taking the French of England into account affects our conception of literary culture and history from the Anglo-Saxon period to the Early Modern.  See further ‘French in England’ in J. Wogan-Browne, T. Fenster and D. W. Russell, Vernacular Literary Theory from the French of Medieval England: Texts and Translations, c. 1120-c. 1450 (Cambridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2016), pp. 401-14 (E-book in Walsh).

(v) The best single chapter account of Anglo-Norman literature (C12th-14this Susan Crane’s chapter Anglo-Norman Cultures in The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, ed. David Wallace (Cambridge, 1999) (ebook in Walsh).  The great reference book is Ruth J. Dean with Maureen B. M.  Boulton, Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts, ANTS OP3 (London: ANTS, 1999), published after decades of work in the pre-digital era, when Miss Dean was in her 90s and had seen most of the manuscripts in the volume in person.  At the date of its publication I counted some 300 pieces in it noted as still not edited.  Some, perhaps 30 or so, have come out since.

(vi) For  discussion of the literary-linguistic situation in the later fourteenth century and beyond, the most important background book is Ardis Butterfield, The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and Nation in the Hundred Years War (Oxford, 2010) (E-book in Walsh).  Moreover, this brilliant study not only deals with the C14th but incorporates much thought and information about earlier multilingualism in England. 

 (vi) if you are interested in what happens to French in England in the late C15th and C16th, have a look at Deanne Williams, The French Fetish from Chaucer to Shakespeare (Cambridge University Press, 2004),  interesting and provocative, though not fully multilingual in its conceptualisation, or read ch. 27 of Wogan-Browne, et al, Language and Culture (Tim Machan’s “ French, English, and the Late Medieval Linguistic Repertoire”, pp. 363-72, which deals with what happens to the linguistic ecology of England in the C15th into the C16th and beyond). 

French of England: KeyResources 

  1. Dictionaries

Online Anglo-Norman Dictionary at http// 

Oxford English Dictionary online (under O in the library database): very useful for etymology.

Dictionnaire du Moyen Français (1330-1500): see  (occasionally has items not in AND).

Dictionnaire d’etymologique de la langue française  (DEAF) at Heidelberg (incomplete): includes  Anglo-Norman  and  is a splendid resource:  currently half way through the alphabet:

2. Grammars

*Einhorn, E., Old French: A Concise Handbook (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974 and repr.).  Exactly what the title says and with enough detail on AN to be a useful everyday working tool.

Kibler, W. W. An Introduction to Old French (New York: MLA). (readings of texts, fuller on grammar and phonology than Einhorn, but more complicated to use). 


Short, Ian, Manual of Anglo-Norman, 2nd edn, ANTS OPS  8 (2013).  

4. On-line Old French learning

1.Medfrench at the University of Leeds UK has texts with complete grammatical, syntactic and lexical glosses and other aids (in modern French but easy to use).  Google

5. Anglo-Norman Bibliography and Manuscripts

Dean, Ruth J., with the collaboration of Maureen B. M. Boulton, Anglo-Norman Literature: A Guide to Texts and Manuscripts, ANTS, OP 3 (London, 1999). Indispensable for all serious work in the field. In reference section at the library.  

Online bibliography : (texts can be looked up under title, sometimes author’s name:  takes increasing account of the French of England)

6. Hearing Anglo-Norman

French of England Fordham web site: under Audio

(or google Fordham French of England Audio).

See also specific recordings by the Chaucer Studio: (or google Chaucer Studio): choose French in the Languages menu.

7.  The Anglo-Norman Text Society  (ANTS) publishes the major editions of primary texts, plus works of reference (Occasional Publications) and single MS editions (Plain Texts Series) at bargain prices to subscribed members (cf Early English Text Society for Middle English).  Go to  The secretary of ANTS is Prof. Daron Burrows of the French Department at the University of Oxford  UK:   Feel free to write to him if you would like to join ANTS, this year or at  any time after it.