Dublin, Trinity College, MS 492: A New Witness to the Old English Bede and its Twelfth-Century Context

Examines a series of seven English annotations in a mid-twelfth-century copy of Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica from Bury St Edmunds, demonstrating that the annotations reflect the comparison of Bede’s Latin with a now-lost manuscript of the Old English Bede shortly after the twelfth-century codex’s production . The annotations are shown to hold a respect for the authority of the Old English Bede that contrasts with the prevailing twelfth-century attitude of gentle suspicion towards earlier vernacular translations.

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Reference: Mark Faulkner, ‘Dublin, Trinity College, MS 492: A New Witness to the Old English Bede and its Twelfth-Century Context’, Anglia: Zeitschrift fur Englische Philologie 135 (2017), 274-290.

(For additional discussion of these findings, along with other Old English in Trinity manuscripts, see my post on the Manuscripts at Trinity blog.)

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.

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.