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Level 7

7AAH1018 The History of Script in Britain, AD 600-1100

Credit value20
Module convenor/tutor: Professor Julia Crick
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour weekly seminars
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 4,000 word essay (100%)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module will focus on the development of Latin and vernacular writing in England in a particularly formative period. The centuries between the conversion to Christianity and the Norman Conquest saw the development of new written language – English – and experimentation with a range of novel types of writing, each produced to meet contemporary needs in an environment in which writing was not only exceptionally precious but carried particular social and political significance. The module will introduce students to techniques for dating and localizing manuscripts and will investigate circumstances in which writing was developed and practised. It will consider library books, new compositions and documents, and the development of new types of script to meet the demands of readers and patrons.

Provisional teaching plan

  1. The Roman inheritance
  2. The native inheritance
  3. Innovation and the multiplication of texts: Wearmouth-Jarrow
  4. Innovation and the multiplication of texts: Canterbury
  5. The Viking Age and Alfred’s England
  6. The Viking Age and Wales
  7. Post-Alfredian reform: square minuscule
  8. Benedictine reform: Anglo-Caroline
  9. The century of conquests: writing in English
  10. The century of conquests: writing in Latin

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory

  • Jane Roberts, Guide to Scripts used in English Writings up to 1500 (2005)
  • The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, I, 400-1100, ed. Richard Gameson (2012)
  • A Palaeographer’s View: Selected Writings of Julian Brown, ed. Janet Bately, Michelle Brown, Jane Roberts (1993)
Latin and Old English are not prerequisites for this module. No transcription work will be undertaken.
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