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Professor Jocelyn Wogan-Browne To Deliver Lecture on "Multilingualism and Medieval England: Re-thinking Language-Acquisition and Literary History."

On Thursday, 1/22, at 3:30pm, in 1210 McClung Tower, Professor Jocelyn Wogan-Browne will deliver a lecture on “Multilingualism and Medieval England: Re-thinking Language-Acquisition and Literary History.” Professor Wogan-Browne, of Fordham University, is an internationally known scholar of medieval English and French literature and culture, having written The Idea of the Vernacular (Penn State Press), The French of England, c. 1100-c. 1500 (York Medieval Press), and Saints’ Lives and Women’s Literary Culture, c. 1150-c. 1300 (Oxford), in addition to many essays.

Her work has also led to the creation of the website: “The French of England,” a comprehensive bibliography of printed historical sources in Anglo-Norman from the late eleventh to mid-fifteenth centuries, and she has been instrumental in establishing “The French of England” as a new area of study within Medieval Studies.

At noon on 1/23, in McClung 1210, Professor Wogan-Browne will also lead a seminar, open to all, with a focus on “What Is a Literature? And can you have one in the vernacular?”  About the seminar, Professor Wogan-Browne explains,

As multilingual paradigms take effect in re-shaping literary and socio-linguistic histories of English, current re-thinking of the vectors of English-language literary vernacularity in medieval England continues apace with, for instance, Christopher Cannon’s recent  “From Literacy to Literature: Elementary Learning and the Middle English Poet,” PMLA 129.3 (2014): 349-64.   This seminar takes up an older study from 2003 in which the historian Jeremy Catto raises the question of whether we can think in terms of literature or perhaps even of literary culture for vernacular writing in England before the late fourteenth century.  I think this an informed and very well argued article, though one with many of whose premises and conclusions I disagree: it seems to me to raise issues of interest both for medievalists and for scholars and students in post-medieval fields as to what we can agree to call literature and why and how it matters.

For the seminar, Professor Wogan-Browne has provided some reading materials that can be obtained by emailing Dr. Laura Howes. Please note, however, that it’s not necessary for you to read the essays in order to attend the seminar.

Please direct any questions about her visit to Dr. Laura Howes ( or Dr. Mary Dzon (

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