• Paper and Digital Ecologies in the Glastonbury Miscellany (Cambridge, Trinity College MS O.9.38)

    Tom White (see profile)
    LLC Middle English, TM Bibliography and Scholarly Editing
    Mass media--Study and teaching, Archaeology, Literature, Medieval, Manuscripts
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Paper-stuff: Materiality, Technology and Invention
    Conf. Org.:
    Centre for Material Texts / English Faculty
    Conf. Loc.:
    University of Cambridge
    Conf. Date:
    September 2018
    Media archaeology, Medieval literature, Media ecology, Manuscript studies, Manuscript culture, Manuscript cultures
    Permanent URL:
    One of a number of leaves in the manuscript to have been badly damaged in the sixteenth century, folio 89 of the Glastonbury Miscellany reminds its modern readers of the fragmentary nature of the medieval textual record. Work began on this paper manuscript in the middle of the fifteenth century at Glastonbury Abbey. Transported to London in the 1530s after the dissolution of the abbey, the manuscript was still being added to in the 1560s in the spaces between and alongside its existing texts, as well as in a number of previously empty folios. Like so many manuscripts, it is an artifact that productively traverses the divide between the medieval and early modern. This eventful history took its toll, though, and the damaged folios were recently mounted on new sheets of paper as part of the conservation of the manuscript. The modern blank sheets occupy an intriguing role in this new assemblage: cutting across the commonplace association of blank space with future inscription, they are specifically not for further writing. The time of the Glastonbury Miscellany is resolutely polychronic: medieval, early modern, and modern intentions are all legible in its surviving materials. The looping ecology of paper production, consumption and recycling in the premodern age has been joined by a digital ecology of screenic reproduction. In this paper, I take folio 89 of the Glastonbury Miscellany as the occasion to theorise not only the material and conceptual entanglements of medieval and early modern paper, but also the modern remediation of these folios as digital objects: the interwoven, though also occasionally fractious paper and digital ecologies of my title. What kinds of material history of paper’s production and use unfold from manuscripts like the Glastonbury Miscellany? And how do modern materials (the paper mounts of folio 89, but also the associated materials of digital technologies) work to shore up its fragmentary folios?
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
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