Virginia Blanton (University of Missouri-Kansas City), Reading Nuns in East Anglia
6 August, 2012
12.10 - 1.30pm
Abstract: This collaborative project provides a critical edition of a unique medieval manuscript, Cambridge University Library Additional MS 2604, along with a discussion of the readers for which it was produced. Catalogued only in 2009 and virtually unknown to scholars, this manuscript contains a collection of prose saints' lives translated from Latin into Middle English. The date of the manuscript, between 1450 and 1500, places it securely within the growth of literacy in Middle English, and the focus on female saints associated with the Benedictine order would appear to indicate an audience of Benedictine or Augustinian women religious. Given the evidence of networks of women readers (often nuns and laywomen) living in East Anglia who read verse collections in Middle English and the inclusion in CUL Add. MS 2604 of six female saints from the monastery at Ely, there is a strong indication that this manuscript is associated with an audience of nuns in this region. This collection enhances the study of devotional literacy in late medieval England by investigating how prose works - written in Latin and designed originally for male audiences - were being adapted for a female readership in a particular milieu.
Location: Woolley Common Room, Woolley Building