Elizabeth Archibald: Mon. 7 March 2011

21 February 2011 Comments Off on Elizabeth Archibald: Mon. 7 March 2011

“Chaucer and Multilingual Writing in Medieval England”
5:00, Green College Coach House
—Green College ”Lay Reading, Lay Readers in the High Middle Ages” lecture series; see also the UBC Medieval and Renaissance English Literature Group site.

Elizabeth Archibald is Professor of Medieval Literature in the Department of English at the University of Bristol. Her research and teaching interests include Chaucer; Medieval romance, especially the Arthurian legend; representations of women in medieval literature; and medieval Latin and the classical tradition in the Middle Ages.

In the last fifteen years, there has been an explosion of interest in bilingualism, multilingualism, and macaronics (in both the strict sense of Latin endings on vernacular words, and the looser sense of a mixture of words in different languages). The old hierarchy, according to which English only gradually clawed its way up the ladder to respectability as a sophisticated literary language, has been strongly challenged.  In England in the later Middle Ages, ‘Three languages existed in harmony, not just side by side but in symbiotic relationship, interpenetrating and drawing strength from one another; not three cultures but one culture in three voices’ (Turville-Petre). This does not mean that a large proportion of the population in the period was functionally bi- or trilingual, but multilingualism was certainly not restricted to a highly educated elite.   Evidence is available in many forms of late medieval English writing. Examples come from business and legal records, literature, sermons, political, religious and amorous lyrics. That makes even more surprising the absence of macaronic writing in Chaucer’s work.

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