The Book and the Transformation of Britain c. 550-1050

A Study in Written and Visual Literacy and Orality

Michelle P. Brown

The Book and the Transformation of Britain c. 550-1050

Michelle P. Brown

Distributed for British Library

184 pages | 12 color plates, 75 halftones | 6 x 8 | © 2011
Cloth $70.00 ISBN: 9780712358286 Published February 2012 For sale in North and South America only

Between 550 and 1050 AD, the world of late Roman Antiquity was utterly transformed, becoming a patchwork region of independent states that eventually coalesced into empires and nations, each with distinct, emerging identities. In The Book and the Transformation of Britain, esteemed medievalist Michelle P. Brown explores the impact of this transformative era in British history by looking at the manuscripts and written records that were produced during that time.

Brown’s analysis of the changing of the British Isles pays particular attention to the role of the manuscript book, which was one of the greatest and most effective agents of change—one that also managed to preserve tradition. Through a close examination of written volumes and documents, Brown pieces together a fascinating and highly illustrated account of the literary culture of the time, including levels of literacy and its social perception.

Introduction: What Does 'Literacy' Mean in this Period?

1. Conversion: Scribes, the Sacred and Social Change
    From Pamphlet to Pandect: the Codex and the Codification of Scripture
    The Book as Speculum of the Transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages
    Visualising Sound in Graphic Form: New Ways of Teaching and Learning
    Disseminating Scripture: Being the Book—the Scribe as Evangelist
2. Creating communities of reading
    The Rise of Written Vernacular Languages
    Women and the Book in the pre-Alfredian Era
    Inscriptions—words to be seen and not heard?
    Books and other Icons
3. Language, literature and libraries
    The Impetus of Incomers
    Official Intervention? Assessing the Alfredian Contribution
    Libraries: the Collection and Retention of Cultural Memory
    Women and other Bibliophiles
    The Last Word

List of Illustrations
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