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Occupying Space in Medieval and Early Modern Britain and Ireland

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Edited By Gregory Hulsman and Caoimhe Whelan

This collection offers a range of interdisciplinary viewpoints on the occupation of space and theories of place in Britain and Ireland throughout the medieval and early modern periods. It considers space in both its physical and abstract sense, exploring literature, history, art, manuscript studies, religion, geography and archaeology. The buildings and ruins still occupying our urban and rural spaces bridge the gap between the medieval and the modern; manuscripts and objects hold keys to unlocking the secrets of the past. Focusing on the varied uses of space enriches our understanding of the material culture of the medieval and early modern period. The essays collected here offer astute observations on this theme and generate new insights into areas such as social interaction, cultural memory, sacred space and ideas of time and community.
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Filling the Void: The Development of Punctuation in a Silent Reading Culture (Diane Scott)

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← 86 | 87 →DIANE SCOTT

Filling the Void: The Development of Punctuation in a Silent Reading Culture

Traditional views of the shift from orality to literacy have conceived of a definitive shift towards the latter, with scholars emphasising the superiority of private, silent reading over the oral past.1 Silent reading was viewed as the ultimate aim of a literate, enlightened society. It was undoubtedly an important development in terms of private thought and formulation; silent reading enables heretical thinking.2 Medieval scholars embraced this theory because the shift to silent reading could be traced through Anglo-Saxon bard culture to the sophisticated satire of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.3 If we accept that material book production is shaped by contemporary technology and driven by requirement, we can trace silent reading developments in the physical format of the book which are defined by the contemporaneous demands upon the written text.

The move from scroll to codex was compounded by the rise of Christianity as a ‘religion of the book’ and the requirements of dissemination.4 Cursive script developed in line with increasing administrative demands, and towards the end of the twelfth century, Gothic Cursive emerges from its ‘proto’ predecessor. The design and implementation of cursive script in general made the act of writing less painstaking and ← 87 | 88 →‘more compatible with intellectual activity’.5 Increasing demand and changing functions of the written text provoked a development in the physical form. Word separation, textual divisions and deployment of punctuation marks all highlight the...

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