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Carol Symes
Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Champaign, IL 61801-3620)
Activating Texts: Mediated Documents and Their Makers in Medieval Europe

A book-length analysis of the people and processes involved in the creation of six medieval documents made in northwestern Europe, 1000-1215 CE.

Many medieval texts were created through the participation of multiple historical actors, some of them illiterate, whose contributions to the documentary process have since been silenced. As a result, the contemporary meanings of these texts, which were bound up with a shared knowledge of their making, have also been lost. My project models an innovative methodology for re-activating these written records and the popular literacies that informed them, in order to re-assess their evidentiary status. It examines six significant documentary initiatives, the complex motivations behind them, and the cultural work they performed. These case studies deal with different textual genres and the many relationships among official and lay uses of writing which do not map onto Latin/vernacular or written/oral binaries. Although focused on the years 1000 to 1215, and on northwestern Europe, the book’s methods are broadly applicable to any era when the status of writing is contested or in flux.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Media Studies; Medieval History; Medieval Studies

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2017 – 7/31/2018