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London, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 84, the first folio of which appears on the cover of this book, was a manuscript very close to Lister Matheson's heart. Although he described the manuscript with a critical eye as having a ‘poorly drawn half-page frontpiece’, Matheson had been working with great diligence and affection on Lambeth 84 for nearly three decades: he mentioned it many times in his classroom lectures on the Prose Brut and the History of the Book, and had even managed to use it as an example in his course on Chaucer and occasionally in his famed class on Medieval Drama. Indeed, he had been planning to write a monograph about it; thus far he had presented four papers and published an essay on the Arthurian stories in the chronicle. He was particularly struck by the physical composition of the chronicle itself: the amount of supplementary material written in the margins was ‘unparalleled’ and there was a noticeably large number of small slips of vellum interspersed in the manuscript. In the classroom, his attention to detail, combined with a thorough knowledge of medieval historical and literary texts and his skill as a thrilling storyteller, made him a fascinating and entertaining teacher: we knew that everything in his lecture would sooner or later connect with everything else, with the clarity and intellectual satisfaction of a Venn diagram. (Matheson drew such diagrams on the board when teaching complex ideas and theories, and used the overlapping circles to illustrate relationships between characters in medieval texts.) We understood that to be proper medievalists, we must grasp the content of a text as well as the material circumstances in which that text was created. One of the most difficult skills Matheson taught his students was how to glean a solid conclusion from what first appeared to be a complete lack of information. No detail was ever insignificant: he showed us how to extrapolate seminal discoveries from the smallest elements.
An exploration of the late Professor Lister M. Matheson's influence as a scholar and a teacher lies at the heart of this collection.
The histories of chronicles composed in England during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and onwards, with a focus on texts belonging to or engaging with the Prose Brut tradition, are thefocus of this volume. The contributors examine the composition, dissemination and reception of historical texts written in Anglo-Norman, Latin and English, including the Prose Brut chronicle (c. 1300 and later), Castleford's Chronicle (c. 1327), and Nicholas Trevet's Les Cronicles (c. 1334), looking at questions of the processes of writing, rewriting, printing and editing history. They cross traditional boundaries of subject and period, taking multi-disciplinary approaches to their studies in order to underscore the (shifting) historical, social and political contexts inwhich medieval English chronicles were used and read from the fourteenth century through to the present day. As such, the volume honours the pioneering work of the late Professor Lister M. Matheson, whose research in this area demonstrated that a full understanding of medieval historical literature demands attention to both the content of the works in question and to the material circumstances of producing those works.
Jaclyn Rajsic is a Lecturer in Medieval Literature in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London; Erik Kooper taught Old and Middle English at Utrecht University; until his retirement in 2007; Dominique Hoche is an Associate Professor at West Liberty University in West Virginia.
Contributors: Elizabeth J. Bryan, Caroline D. Eckhardt, A.S.G. Edwards, Dan Embree, Alexander L. Kaufman, Edward Donald Kennedy, Erik Kooper, Julia Marvin, William Marx, Krista A. Murchison, Heather Pagan, Jaclyn Rajsic, Christine M. Rose, NeilWeijer