Participatory reading in late-medieval England

By Heather Blatt

Participatory reading in late-medieval England

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1799-1
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: April 2018
  • BIC Category: LITERARY CRITICISM / General, LITERARY CRITICISM / Medieval, Literature & literary studies / General, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: classical, early & medieval, Medieval Literature, Literature, Literary studies: ancient & classical
  • Series: Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture


This book traces affinities between digital and medieval media, exploring how reading functioned as a nexus for concerns about increasing literacy, audiences' agency, literary culture and media formats from the late fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries. Drawing on a wide range of texts, from well-known poems of Chaucer and Lydgate to wall texts, banqueting poems and devotional works written by and for women, Participatory reading argues that making readers work offered writers ways to shape their reputations and the futures of their productions. At the same time, the interactive reading practices they promoted enabled audiences to contribute to - and contest - writers' burgeoning authority, making books and reading work for everyone.


'I was impressed overall with Blatt's well written and thoughtful volume, seeing familiar texts in new ways and intrigued by ones that I did not know. It will be useful to scholars of Middle English both inside and outside of Digital Humanities.'

'Participatory Reading offers innovative contexts in which to understand late medieval writing; these are questions we absolutely should be thinking about, and Blatt's intervention is an important one. the ideas here will no doubt influence how we continue to think and write about late medieval literary culture, and I very much look forward to seeing how this book shapes the ensuing conversation.'
Studies in the Age of Chaucer

'Its foregrounding of participation makes it a worthy addition to the scholarly literature on reading practices.'


Introduction: participatory reading in late-medieval England
Part I: Participatory discourse
1 Corrective reading: Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and John Lydgate's Troy Book
2 Nonlinear reading: the Orcherd of Syon, Titus and Vespasian, and Lydgate's Siege of Thebes
Part II: Evoking participation
3 Reading materially: John Lydgate's 'Soteltes for the coronation banquet of Henry VI'
4 Reading architecturally: the wall texts of a Percy family manuscript and the Poulys Daunce of St. Paul's Cathedral
5 Reading temporally: Thomas of Erceldoune's prophecy, Eleanor Hull's Commentary on the Psalms, and Thomas Norton's Ordinal of alchemy
Conclusion: nonreading in late-medieval England


Heather Blatt is Associate Professor of English Literature at Florida International University

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