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Thinking Medieval Romance$
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Katherine C. Little and Nicola McDonald

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795148

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795148.001.0001

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Good History, Bad Romance, and the Making of Literature

Good History, Bad Romance, and the Making of Literature

Chapter:
(p.203) 11 Good History, Bad Romance, and the Making of Literature
Source:
Thinking Medieval Romance
Author(s):

Michelle R. Warren

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198795148.003.0012

Genre categories are shaped by cultural context and can change over time. This case study of Henry Lovelich’s Grail and Merlin (Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 80) accounts for the malleability of ‘romance’ by assessing in detail how perceptions of genre are mediated by form, politics, religion, archival methods, aesthetics, and pedagogy. When MS 80 was created in the fifteenth century, the English text was part of a multilingual tradition in which romance and history were inherently entangled and overlapping. In the sixteenth century, the Grail and King Arthur served as politically useful history. As the religious polemics of the Reformation subsided, Lovelich’s translation came to represent the beginning of English national romance. By the mid-twentieth century, it had been repositioned as a much maligned ‘bad romance’. Later, from the perspective of manuscript studies, evaluations became more positive. Now, early in the twenty-first century, the expansion of digital archives supports new approaches that challenge traditional distinctions between literary history and book history.

Keywords:   catalogues, archives, literary history, book history, Reformation, manuscript studies, digital humanities

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