The French of England:
Multilingualism in Practice, c. 1100-c. 1500

27th Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval Studies, Fordham University
Friday, March 30 - Sunday, April 1, 2007
At the Lincoln Center Campus of Fordham University
Abstracts

Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, and Unknown Unknowns: The Circulation of French Literature in Medieval England
Keith Busby, University of Wisconsin-Madison

After reviewing various kinds of evidence for the ownership of French books in England in the period before 1500, I will present different modes of transmission in aristocratic and monastic milieux. I will also stress the primacy of England and Western France in the development of French vernacular literature and in the copying of texts. I argue against the view of later “Anglo-Norman” literature as primarily didactic and in favor of a wider distribution in the British Isles (and in medieval Francophonia generally) of what is perceived as the canon of continental Old French. I will conclude by examining in detail a curious document from ca. 1270 which has much to tell us about the dissemination of French texts in England, Wales, and Ireland, at the same time as it offers intriguing hints of a whole corpus of lost literature.

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