European Literature and Book History in the Middle Ages, c. 600-c. 1450

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Medieval European literature is both broader and deeper in its basis than what is usually offered in literary histories with their focus only on a narrow canon and on vernacular languages. One way to see this bigger canvas is to consider technical and statistical book-historical factors together with the authority of the two Roman Empires (Western and Eastern) and of their religious hierarchies (the papacy and the patriarchate). A coordinated reading of developments in the Latin West and the Greek East—though rarely directly related—brings out some main features of intellectual and literary life in most of Europe. With this focus, a literary chronology emerges—as a supplement to existing narratives based on either national or formal (genre) concerns: the period c. 600 to c. 1450 can be considered a unity in book-historical terms, namely the era dominated the hand-written codex. It is also delimited by the fate of the Roman Empire with the Latin West effectively separated from the Greek Empire by c. 600 and the end of Constantinople in 1453. Within this broad framework, three distinctive phases of book- and intellectual history can be discerned: the exegetical (c. 600–c. 1050), the experimental (c. 1050–c. 1300), and the critical (c. 1300–c. 1450). These three headings should be understood as a shorthand for what was new in each phase, not as a general characteristic, especially because exegesis in various forms continued to lie at the heart of reading and writing books in all relevant languages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Research Encyclopedias : Literature
Number of pages25
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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Roman Empire
Medieval Period
European Literatures
History of Books
Latin Language
Supplements
Shorthand
Fate
Canvas
Canon
Intellectual History
Unity
Religion
Vernacular Language
Chronology
Authority
Patriarchate
Codex
Language
Exegesis

Cite this

Mortensen, Lars Boje. / European Literature and Book History in the Middle Ages, c. 600-c. 1450. Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Literature. Oxford University Press, 2018.
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European Literature and Book History in the Middle Ages, c. 600-c. 1450. / Mortensen, Lars Boje.

Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Literature. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

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