Medieval Research, and Sumer is Icumen In

Somebody else seems to share part of my intuition about reading (HT: Ron Silliman), which I applied a bit to the St Albans Psalter (12c., written in Latin and Anglo-Norman with copious pictures) last semester. At least that tells me, since I do need some reminding, that the questions I’m trying to answer this summer in my academic work are real and can influence what we do in the world, that my interpretation can be important somewhere.

Fine, some background. In the fall term of 2008, I took Mediaeval Literature with Prof. Jennifer Miller in the English department. The focus of the course was the St Albans Psalter, which was produced in England in the twelfth century and now is held in Germany. My term paper attempted to deal with what seemed to be some inconsistencies in the codex’s presuppositions and agenda about legitimate literacy. As I worked to see what the text of this Psalter (not just the words as disembodied, abstract linguistic representation but as a whole object) was really doing, orality and silence seemed to be a large part of the question – interesting because I’ve always found this issue important, though largely unknown and speculative.

Now my work, as it touches what was practised and commended in 12c. England (by whoever), may pertain to both Silliman’s aesthetic and performative interests – of which I really know nothing, because he’s not my normal reading (though he seems to be Cliff’s) – and the theological (and liturgical) practice of churches today. If I can make an original contribution in this area in the next two or three months, if indeed I can find something worth other people learning, I’ll be pretty pleased with this summer.


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