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Visible Song: Transitional Literacy in Old English Verse
For many years there has been lively debate about the 'orality' or 'literacy' of Old English verse: about whether the Old English verse which has come down to us is primarily the product of oral composition or primarily written, insofar as it is transmitted only in manuscript. The present book throws light on this question by drawing our attention to a largely unexplored b...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published October 11th 2006 by Cambridge University Press
(first published November 29th 1990)
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Old English from Its Indo-European Roots to the Norman Conquest
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Visible Song lives up to it's reputation as one of the more important OE studies in recent history. O'Brien O'Keeffe works from a theory of "transitional literacy," by which she means a point in the history of English-speaking people when they read (i.e., were technically literate) but read using oral conventions and techniques, in order to illuminate what we see in various manuscript records. The gist of it is that scribes, when copying a manuscript, were apt to provide variant readings, consci...more