The Visual Text: Bibliographic Codes as Pragmatic Markers on a Manuscript Page

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Abstract1

This paper explores the dynamics of the textual-visual interface of a medieval manuscript page within the frameworks of historical pragmatics and pragmaphilological approaches to the study of historical texts. Whilst the former focuses on the contexts in which historical utterances, manifested as texts, occur (Jacobs & Jucker 1995: 11), the latter involves a context-based perspective in the study of individual historical texts (Jucker 2000: 91). Combining the two approaches allows for a more comprehensive study of the “visual text” (cf. Machan 2011) than has been possible for paleographic, codicological, or linguistic analyses of medieval manuscripts. The present paper adopts the “pragmatics-on-the-page” approach (cf. Carroll et al. 2013, Peikola et al. 2014) in its analysis of bibliographic codes in British Library Royal MS 18 D II, which contains the texts of Lydgate’s Troy Book and Siege of Thebes. Such visual elements of the manuscript page as mise en page, ink colour, as well as type and size of script will be examined as pragmatic markers, functioning on three levels of meaning: textual, interactional, and metalinguistic (cf. Erman 2001, Carroll et al. 2013), and providing (visual) contexts for interpreting the linguistic message of the text.

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  • British Library MS Royal D II 18 < http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?-ref=Royal_MS_18_d_ii>

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  • Jucker Andreas H. & Päivi Pahta. 2011. Communicating manuscripts: Authors scribes readers listeners and communicating characters. In Päivi Pahta & Andreas H. Jucker (eds.) Communicating early English manuscripts 3–10. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Machan Tim William. 2011. The visual pragmatics of code-switching in Late Middle English literature. In Herbert Schendl & Laura Wright (eds.) Code-switching in early English 303–333. Berlin and Boston: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Peikola Matti Mari-Liisa Varila Carla Suhr Janne Skaffari Hanna Salmi Aleksi Mäkilähde Risto Hiltunen & Ruth Carroll. 2014. Pragmatics on the Page (PoP). <https://www.utu.fi/en/units/hum/units/English/research/projects/Pages/Pragmatics-on-the-Page.aspx>

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