Form, Text, and the Medieval Manuscript Roll (Kalamazoo 2018)
The medieval manuscript roll was remarkably versatile. Playing host to a variety of genres, the roll format was an omnipresent feature of the textual landscape throughout the Middle Ages. Though its popularity is often attributed to its portability or economical construction, scholars have also noted relationships between its form and the genres it contains. For example, the inverted images of Exultet rolls were visible to onlookers as the texts were read, while the continuous length of a roll could emphasise the continuous history of a chronicle or genealogy. At the same time, however, rolls contain many texts not obviously connected to their format: poetry, recipes, devotional texts, charms, poetry, and even chiromancy. Likewise, there are numerous examples of chronicles and other texts, like Peter of Poitier’s Historiae in genealogia Christi and further examples of devotional poetry, that circulate in both rolls and codices, complicating simple notions of the relationship between text and form. The form of the roll even served as an imaginative substrate, as in the decorative architectural scrollwork in the church at Long Melford, Suffolk where Lydgate’s poetry can be seen unfurled on the wall. Drawing on these varied examples, this panel seeks to initiate new conversations that discuss these and other complicated relationships between form and substrate.
Responding to growing interest in the roll form, this panel invites papers that explore, interrogate, and illuminate our understanding of the complex relationship between text and form in the medieval manuscript roll and in texts which move between roll and codex. Please submit a 250-word proposal for a 15- to 20-minute paper as well as a Participant Information Form to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 15, 2017.