British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow,
University of Cambridge

The Anachronic Manuscript: Voices, Networks, and History in a Medieval French Book

funded by a PhD studentship from the European Research Council, 2017–20, as part of The Values of French project at KCL


Taking its cue from movements in Art History, this book develops the concept of the ‘anachronic’ to articulate a new approach to medieval literature and history-writing based on the material object, the manuscript, as opposed to its heuristic abstraction, the text. Advancing an innovative interdisciplinary methodology that draws on codicology, literary studies, philology, modern critical theory, and linguistics, The Anachronic Manuscript examines a thirteenth-century multi-text codex made in Soissons, northern France (Paris, BnF, fr. 17177), in order to explore broader issues in medieval textuality surrounding voice, polyphony, affect, networks, and assemblages (the respective titles of each chapter). In addition to presenting one of the first book-length studies in English of the widely disseminated, yet understudied, Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César, The Anachronic Manuscript aims to draw out the complex temporalities at stake in the medieval book through a sustained engagement with theories of time/history and of networks/assemblages. Focus moves from the micro level (discourse analysis) to the macro level (the reassembly of networks), always probing at how BnF fr. 17177 operates, firstly within a wider discursive universe, secondly within a local network, and thirdly as a ‘textual event’ experienced through the senses. Paving the way for future studies of medieval literature, The Anachronic Manuscript answers recent calls to read medieval texts in their manuscript context, while more importantly presenting a theoretical challenge to the conventional separation of text and manuscript.

Paris, BnF, fr. 17177, 62v, 42r

Scenes from the Histoire ancienne jusqu'à César.