A Study of London, British Library Harley MS 2320: its Social, Cultural and Economic Environment
My thesis is a report of my research into a manuscript book of the early fifteenth century, in Middle English: London, British Library, Harley MS 2320. This book includes a calendar, a zodiac prognosticatory text in prose, a poetic lunary, and detailed instructions for making forty patterns of braid. There are some later additions on spare leaves and in margins. No one has previously written about MS 2320 as a whole, so that the connections between its parts, and the use of the book have not been studied. I looked at the book as a made object, and also studied the texts within it. As a professionally made book with no literary or overt religious content, as well as having been initially made as one item, MS 2320 falls outside the usual studies of what are often termed miscellanies. One outcome of my work is a proposal that the further study of this type of book could yield valuable information about the book trade of its time and place, and its customers. My research compared the manuscript with a range of literary texts, which shed light on what information a poet of the time would expect his readers to know, and I have given examples of how the meaning of certain expressions in literary texts contemporary with MS 2320 become clear. Changes in meanings of some words over time also became apparent from the manuscript. I approached the book primarily from a new historicist point of view, which allowed for a wide view of where this book fitted into the world at the time of its making, and allowed for a range of sources, both literary and technical to be used in my research.
Advisor: Marshall, Simone Celine
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: English and Linguistics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; medieval; manuscripts; Harley MS 2320
Research Type: Thesis