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Book description

A New Literary History of the Long Twelfth Century offers a new narrative of what happened to English language writing in the long twelfth century, the period that saw the end of the Old English tradition and the beginning of Middle English writing. It discusses numerous neglected or unknown texts, focusing particularly on documents, chronicles and sermons. To tell the story of this pivotal period, it adopts approaches from both literary criticism and historical linguistics, finding a synthesis for them in a twenty-first century philology. It develops new methodologies for addressing major questions about twelfth-century texts, including when they were written, how they were read and their relationship to earlier works. Essential reading for anyone interested in what happened to English after the Norman Conquest, this study lays the groundwork for the coming decade's work on transitional English.


‘This book makes a field-changing contribution to scholarship and cannot be ignored by any-one working on the literary, cultural, social, or linguistic history of England’s High Middle Ages. It is a formidable achievement.’

Laura Ashe Source: The Review of English Studies

‘… an engaging and erudite attempt to re-configure the history of English language and literature in the years following the Norman Conquest and before the emergence of the chief literary writers in English of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. … The book sets out [its] case in engaging and scholarly fashion; it may change the way the history of English is understood.’

Paul Cavill Source: The Glass

‘… an insightful piece of research which revisits one of the most promising, and yet at the same time one of the most neglected periods in the history of English language and writing.’

Paulina Zagorska Source: Linguistica Silesiana

‘Original, meticulously researched, and well-written … the New Literary History of the Long Twelfth Century is far and away the best study of the period to date. … Any future work on the period will need to begin with this important book.’

Tim William Machan Source: Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies

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