Seminar Two

Oralities and Literacies


  1. Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983), Sections One and Two. On reserve in hard copy and available as an e-book on the Walsh catalogue. Stock uses continental examples: the important thing is to read until you have grasped his concepts of a-literate mentalities and of textual communities.
  2. Gabrielle Spiegel, Romancing the Past: The Rise of Vernacular Prose Historiography in Thirteenth-Century France (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California 1993, pprbk 1995): Introduction pp. 1-10: Chapter One pp.11-12, 40-53, and Chapter Two pp. 55-98. Spiegel’s models and arguments are important, so the Introduction is a useful overview: the historical background in Chapter One is valuable for showing how permeable any notion of insular medieval English culture has to be with the Continent: Chapter Two offers context, models, comparisons for various versions of the Ps-Turpin text as it inaugurates (according to Spiegel) aristocratic uses of prose historiography as ideology. These extracts are on reserve as hard copy and the Introduction is available as a reading excerpt on the Walsh catalogue entry for the book.

Other useful optional secondary reading
Franz H.Bäuml, ‘Varieties and Consequences of Medieval Literacy and Illiteracy’, Speculum 55 (1980), 237-65.
Michael Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), ch. 8, ‘Hearing and Seeing’, pp. 253-93, ch. 9 ‘Trusting Writing’, pp. 294-327.


  1. a report (5 minutes) on Stock
  2. a report (6-7 minutes) on Spiegel
  3. a report on Clanchy (3-4 minutes) on Domesday Book from ch. 1 of From Memory to Written Record.


  1. La Destructioun de Rome, ed. Luciano Formisano, Anglo-Norman Text Society Plain Text Series 8 (London; ANTS, 1990): photocopied extract and translation. (read and note)
  2. The Anglo-Norman Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle, ed. Ian Short, ANTS 25 (London, ANTS, 1973), photocopied extract. Prologue to be translated in preparation for the seminar.
  3. The Deeds of the Normans in Ireland (La Geste des Engleis enYrlande), ed. Evelyn Mullally (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002). Photocopied extract. (read and note)