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Towards a poetics of titles: the prehistory

Gibbons, Victoria Louise 2010. Towards a poetics of titles: the prehistory. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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This thesis initiates a diachronic reconsideration of the English literary title. Unlike previous critical studies of titling practices, which focus almost exclusively on modern printed works, the thesis turns to the titling practices of manuscripts, addressing the different forms, functions and meanings of premodern titling. The overlapping of theoretical and material concerns necessitates a new multidisciplinary approach which combines critical theories of titology with codicological and bibliographical modes of enquiry. The introductory chapter contrasts different titling practices of contemporary and premodern literary cultures. Chapter two identifies shortcomings in current titological theories. The third chapter opens with a consideration of the meanings and uses the word title specific to the premodern era and the possible influences ancient and early medieval approaches to identifying and defining texts may have had on later medieval titling. Chapter four considers the growth in external and internal forms of vernacular titling practice evident in selected manuscripts of the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The fifth chapter moves the discussion into the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as witnessed by three important codices from this time: Oxford, Bodleian Library, Digby 86; Scotland, National Library, Advocates 19. 2. 1 (Auchinleck); and Oxford, Bodleian Library, Eng. poet. a.1 (Vernon). The conclusion affirms that titling practices did have currency in premodernity though the identification of texts was a practice that exhibits great diversity, and in that feature, as well as in many others, what may appear superficially to be recognisable as titling stands a significant distance apart from modern concepts of the title and involves many other contemporary assumptions, about (para)texts, authors and readers, which are essential to an understanding of what medieval authors and scribes meant when they gave identity to texts

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:32

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