The 322nd meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  December 7, 2021 at 7pm ET. ONLINE PRESENTATION VIA ZOOM. Please email comicssymposium@gmail.com to register for this event. Free and open to the public.

Jessica Brantley on Elephant and Castle and Reynard the Fox: Media-Consciousness in a Late-Medieval Prayerbook

Late-medieval books of hours were the most popular forms of personal media in their era:  the first book a family or an individual would likely own, these prayerbooks were read multiple times a day, and often were used to teach literacy to children. But if books of hours were foundational to fourteenth- and fifteenth-century literate culture, what do their forms reveal about the nature of late-medieval reading? Books of hours were often elaborately illustrated, making questions about the relation of text to image central to their construction. This presentation will examine the ways in which text and image interact in the experience of reading Walters MS W.102, an English book of hours made c. 1300. Replete with unusual texts in Latin and French, as well as numerous complicated images and image-sequences, this book implies a remarkable level of media-consciousness in both its production and its reception.

Jessica Brantley is Professor and Chair of the English Department at Yale University. Her first book, Reading in the Wilderness: Private Devotion and Public Performance in Late Medieval England (Chicago, 2007), shows that the format of a late-medieval miscellany reveals surprising connections between the private reading of a meditative lyric and the public performance of civic drama. Other projects in process include a forthcoming handbook on Medieval Manuscripts and Literary Forms and a monograph provisionally entitled The Medieval Imagetext:  A Literary History of the Book of Hours.

image from Walters MS W.102