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Research Questions

The Project sought to establish the corpus, demonstrate its validity within English literary culture, and illustrate its implications for a wholesale reinterpretation of textual production in the post-Conquest period. It has addressed fundamental research questions about vernacular textual culture and the strategic use of written English in a period that saw both continuity and innovation from pre- to post-Conquest England and thence, from c. 1220 into the later medieval period. The Project is a reflection of a pressing need for a wide-ranging study that investigates manuscripts and texts in English, situated within the wider cultural context, to examine the relationship between languages, language usage, and regional and national production of English.

Our principal research questions:

The Corpus:

What material was produced in English from 1060 to 1220, and how does this relate to texts in other languages copied in the period?

Place and Date:

Where and when was this material produced? Issues to be addressed here will include an identification of all known scriptoria; an identification of all scriptoria known to have produced texts in English; an assessment of how accurately we can date the relevant manuscripts; the ascertaining of who the scribes were (professional, amateur, monastic, other religious, secular); and an analysis of whether, how far, and for how long scribes and manuscripts might have travelled between scriptoria.


Is there an identifiable programme of copying in English, or is it, in comparison to the copying of Latin and Anglo-Norman texts, a marginal activity? Who approved of, and paid for, the copying of texts in English? What resources were given over to this activity?

Use and Audience:

Who had access to manuscripts, and how accessible were manuscript repositories? Who, in general, are the different types of religious materials aimed at, and at whom, specifically, are English religious texts (the bulk of English texts that survive) directed?