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Essays on Medieval Manuscripts and Poetics
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Some of the most prominent figures in medieval literature and textual studies have assembled to offer essays on Middle English manuscripts and verse in honor of Hoyt N. Duggan (“Dug”).
Duggan is a pioneer in matters of medieval prosody and the founder of the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive, an ambitious project in digital-textual archaeology. Duggan’s project is based on antique books, but it is an innovation in the history of all books; unlocking, in unprecedented detail, manuscript evidence that has stood silent or occluded for centuries.
Inspired by Duggan’s work, the contributing authors study not only handwritten artifacts, but also the labor and craft that produced them, their poetic artistry, and their complex roles in religious, literary, and social history.
Because Duggan’s accomplishment is so influential, writing essays in his honor allowed the contributors to engage some of the most important current topics in medieval studies. The first six essays confront issues in the composition and authorship of medieval texts, including metrics and scribal intervention. The following seven essays consider the reception and use of texts in the manuscripts in which they are found.
Striving to display unity and focus, the essays in this collection all work directly with Middle English manuscripts, the only remaining witnesses to the voices of the Middle Ages. The essays also speak to and complement one another with an awareness that one seldom sees in festschrifts. Piers Plowman itself is the subject of at least half of the essays, and students of that last great pre-Reformation English poem will find here a deep resource of new information.
This is an excellent collection of essays and does proper honour to Hoyt Duggan. Duggan’s lifetime interests in Piers Plowman, in medieval manuscripts, and in problems of alliterative meter are well reflected here, and addressed from a number of points of view. The collection as a whole, as a result, has a remarkable coherence.…One must praise the extraordinary unity and integrity given to the volume by [the editors’] choices and guidance.
—Derek Pearsall, Honorary Professor at University of York, and Professor Emeritus at Harvard University��
This is a very impressive collection, which cannot always be said about academic essays in honor of a colleague. The volume as a whole is an example of meticulous, learned, and often exciting scholarship and shows the admiration and affection its contributors have for the dedicatee, Hoyt Duggan.
—C. David Benson, Professor Emeritus at University of Connecticut, Storrs
Festschriften are often miscellaneous volumes, and sometimes uneven in terms of quality as well as coherence. It is a tribute to the honoree, the editors, and the contributors that this volume is largely free of both kinds of unevenness. The essays, many by luminaries in the field, are well-written, and the fact that most of them deal with Piers Plowman, and even more particularly, with manuscript questions relating to Piers, provides a level of continuity not often seen in collections by many hands.
—Siân Echard, Professor at University of British Columbia
Michael Calabrese is a Professor of English at California State University, Los Angeles. He is the author of Chaucer’s Ovidian Arts of Love and articles on Langland, Chaucer, and medieval continental writers, including Boccaccio and Marie de France. He is co-editor of the PPEA vol. 6, an edition of Huntington Library MS Hm 128.
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