Understanding the Manuscript Frontispiece to Corpus Christi College Cambridge Ms 61: The Political Language of a Lancastrian Portrait

Price:$279.95 + shipping
(Click the PayPal button to buy)
This study utilizes a two-pronged approach to examine the rationale underlying the iconography of the frontispiece to Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde in Corpus Christi College Cambridge Manuscript 61. It considers Chaucer in light of orality/literacy theory as well as in relation to prelection and interprets the work within a political framework. This book contains one color photograph.


“Helmbold’s study stands as a major challenge to some of the current orthodoxies of Chaucer criticism. She urges us to recognize the idea that Chaucer wrote for the eye and not the ear involves a serious anachronism, a failure to recognize a key difference between Chaucer’s culture and our own. The primary thing that the “Troilus” frontispiece is trying to show us is Chaucer in oral performance, as a teller of tales, not as a writer of books. The argument that is built to support this understanding of the frontispiece has broad ramifications not only for Chaucer studies but for the study of late medieval and early modern European cultures more generally.” – Prof. Stephen R. Reimer, University of Alberta

“The book argues convincingly for Chaucer, Englishness, poetry, and a complex sense of audience reception wherein the “Troilus” frontispiece represents a text in itself. Arguing the persistence of oral culture, not just as obsolete hangover but as an active feature of intellectual life in tandem with book culture in the later middle ages, Heimbold’s carefully constructed study challenges modem readers to perceive Chaucer’s orality in its fullest sense.” – Prof. Rick Bowers, University of Alberta

“As we experience the paradigm shift from print to electronic media, the once-revolutionary shift from oral to written communication may be forgotten. Anita Heimbold reminds us of it with her study of Chaucer’s communicative practice, located at the intersection of recital and manuscript production, of hearing and reading, of orality and literacy.” – Dr. Sheila Delany, Simon Fraser University

Table of Contents

1. The Frontispiece in Critical Context Picture, promise, and problems / The Troilus frontispiece: a deluxe production / The frontispiece described /Date of the manuscript / The International Style / Traditions from which the frontispiece may borrow /Interpreting the meaning of the Troilus frontispiece / Interpretations of the frontispiece / The unanswered questions
2. The Orality-Literacy Debate Who was reading? / What were they reading? /How were they reading? / Chaucer’s relationship to the literary past / Orality and literacy: written and oral encounters / Critiques of orality/literacy theory / Socialfactors
3. Medieval Aurality An oral pre-history / “Oral practice” in manuscript texts / The case for silent reading /Prelection: the neglected middle ground / Literature as a social occasion
4. “Reading”: Medieval Conceptions of Modality Hear/read/sing/Reading and hearing in Chaucer / Chaucer as private reader/Reading: what Chaucer doesn ‘t say /Evidence from contemporary witnesses
5. Reading after Chaucer: The First One Hundred Years John Lydgate: prolific, popular, successful / The publisher's perspective: evidence from William Caxton
6. The “Persistence” of Orality The sixteenth century: reformation and renaissance / The seventeenth century / The eighteenth century / The nineteenth century / The changing place of orality / The shifting role of rhetoric / The historical orality of reading / Orality and literacy: companion practices
7. Chaucer’s Texts: Performance Scripts? Orality in Chaucer: a brief critical history / The argument over context / Objections to orality / The question of orality in Chaucer / The theatrical quality of Chaucer’s works / Considering the implications
8. The Troilus Frontispiece in Political Perspective
The frontispiece in its era / The case for Henry V

Other Literary Theory Books