Worcester, Cathedral Library, Q. 29, fols. 133-7: an Early Middle English Sermon and its Context

This paper revisits an Early Middle English sermon first published by E. G. Stanley in 1961. It shows that another copy of this sermon was once the first of the Otho Homilies (London, British Library, Cotton Otho A. iii, fols. ‘202-216’, burnt in the Cotton fire but partly reconstructed by Pelle 2014). that this sermon circulated in the same milieu as the Lambeth and Trinity Homilies, and that its source is a nativity sermon by the twelfth-century archbishop of Bordeaux, Geoffrey Babion (d. 1158). It offers an account of the twelve Latin sermons which accompany it in Worcester Q. 29 and a handful of corrections to Stanley’s edition.

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Reference: Mark Faulkner and Stephen Pelle, ‘Worcester, Cathedral Library, Q. 29, fols. 133-7: An Early Middle English Sermon and Its Context’, Mediaeval Studies 75 (2013), 147-176.

Rewriting English Literary History 1042-1215

Offers an overview of what I thought were the necessities for a new literary history of the long twelfth century back in 2012, stressing the need to situate English writing in its multilingual context, to examine not just new composition but the remediation of older works and to focus on works in their regional environments. Includes a very extensive bibliography.

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Reference: Mark Faulkner, ‘Rewriting English Literary History, 1042-1215’, Literature Compass 9 (2012), 275-291.

Archaism, Belatedness and Modernisation: “Old” English in the Twelfth Century

This article edits and discusses a series of twelfth-century annotations from London, BL, Royal 7 C. xii, a late-tenth-century copy of Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies, using them to explore a series of key questions regarding English literary culture in the post-Conquest period, including the relationship between the recopying and rereading of Old English texts and the composition of new, early Middle English texts; the audience for such works and the intelligibility and cultural status of Old English in the twelfth century.

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Reference: Mark Faulkner, ‘Archaism, Belatedness and Modernisation: “Old” English in the Twelfth Century’, Review of English Studies 63 (2012), 179-203.

Gerald of Wales and Standard Old English

This article examines a short passage from Gerald’s Descriptio Cambriae (c. 1194) that comments on the differences between Northern and Southern dialects of English and singles out the dialect of Devon as ‘rather rustic’ but ‘heed[ing] the original language and ancient mode of speech’, comparing it to the language found in ‘all the English books of Bede, Hrabanus, King Alfred and everyone else written’.  I suggest Gerald’s reference to these books is based not on personal knowledge of them (hence the bizarre reference to Hrabanus), but of a general twelfth-century awareness (a linguistic attitude, if you will) that there had been an antiqua proprietas for writing English in the Anglo-Saxon period, ‘Standard’ Old English. By the bye, it analyses the language of an Exeter manumission of 1133 and a Tavistock boundary clause from 1174 to establish the character of Devon English of the twelfth century.

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Reference: Mark Faulkner, ‘Gerald of Wales and Standard Old English’, Notes and Queries n. s. 58 (2011), 19-24.

Orderic and English

This paper shows that the spellings of English place and personal names in a Latin work can be used to reconstruct the author’s pronunciation of English, a technique that has been to recover evidence for the earliest history of English, but (not to my knowledge) for the eleventh century. The article also has a claim, I believe, to be the first study of pre-modern language attrition, since Orderic, a prolific Latin historian, left England aged 10 and only returned subsequently for one short visit. Orderic’s spellings additionally provide evidence for the (limited) place of written English in the education being offered in the parish churches of the West Midlands in the 1080s.

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Reference: Mark Faulkner, ‘Orderic and English’, in Orderic Vitalis: Life, Works and Interpretations eds. Charles C. Rozier, Daniel Roach, Giles E. M. Gasper & Elisabeth van Houts (Woodbridge, Boydell, 2016), pp. 100-126.