British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow,
University of Cambridge

Making Sense/Making Time: Medieval French Compilations Relating the Trojan Past (1250–1350)

funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) under Germany’s Excellence Strategy as part of a six-month postdoctoral fellowship with EXC ‘Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective’ at Freie Universität Berlin

Abstract

This postdoctoral project with Temporal Communities (September 2020–February 2021) examines the temporal implications of compilation as a medieval practice by considering Francophone manuscripts that compile narratives of Troy alongside other texts. While considerable attention has been paid to questions of coherence and uniformity in multi-text codices, this project switches our frame of reference from the hermeneutic to the temporal. How do books physically embody the gaps, ruptures, and blank spaces in chronological time? How do they accumulate and juxtapose different temporal logics? What is specific to the medieval practice of compilatio that may shed light on how we in the present understand and represent the vagaries of being-in-time?

The aim of this project is firstly to provide a codicological overview of French-language manuscripts produced c. 1250-c. 1350 that contain a narrative of Troy. What kind of texts do they accompany in the book? How do verse and prose interact in the experience of these books? How is the Trojan legend put into dialogue with other traditions, be they historical, literary, philosophical, or ‘scientific’? How does the vernacular context differ from the Latinate one? Building on this quantitative data, a secondary aim is to reflect on how taking the physical object – the manuscript book – as our focus of study affects how we approach Trojan material in the Middle Ages. How do image, word and parchment work together to produce an experience of the past that cannot be reduced to the immaterial, authorial 'text'? How did readers engage with – both touching and being touched by – Trojan history as embodied by the book?

See my profile page on the Temporal Communities website.

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