Memorization in the Transmission of the Middle English Romances
Originally published in 1990, Memorization in the Transmission of the Middle English Romances tackles the long-standing issue of the role of memorization in the transmission of Middle English romances. The book addresses the lack of consensus on the issue, despite extensive discussion, putting forth the theory that the heterogeneity of the poems of this period, grouped under the general heading of ‘medieval romance’, makes generalizations about the history of transmissions unreliable. The book suggests that oral-formulaic theory has been applied over-literally to oral or oral derived works, through the assumption that all poems answer the same structural criteria. The book also looks at the aspects of orality and performance theory alongside the textuality and intertextuality of these medieval texts.
1. The Oral Theory and Textual Variation
2. Identifying Memorized Texts
3. Primary Evidence of Memorization
4. Other Effects of Memorization
Conclusion: The Minstrels and the Romances
Appendix: Manuscripts and Stemmata