From the Reading Room – tracing female authorship in medieval manuscripts.

This week Julie Tanner has been in consulting lingustic atlases. I asked about her use of these and her wider research interests.


‘Angus McIntosh’s Linguistic atlas of late medieval English is of great use for my research.  I am compiling a diplomatic¹ edition of selected lyrics from the Findern manuscript and it is pertinent to study linguistic profiles of lexis local to the area of South Derbyshire where it is known that the manuscript was compiled.  If any connections can be made between localised language in the atlas and vocabulary from the anonymous lyrics it is possible to use this evidence to support a claim that provincial scribes had further involvement in the production of the manuscript beyond copying the text.  Some of the scribes are known to be women of the Findern family, and many of the lyrics are honest, sincere female-voiced reflections on losing a loved one.  My broader research interest concerns female participation in provincial manuscript authorship and compilation – McIntosh’s Linguistic atlas is of great help in this endeavour.’

Julie Tanner – Goldsmiths College.

 ¹Diplomatic is defined by Peter Beal as follows: ‘The science or study of documents and records, including their forms, language, script and meaning. It involves knowledge of such matters as the established wording and procedures of particular kinds of document, the deciphering of writing, and document analysis and authentication’  (p. 121).