'Looke this calender and then proced': Tables of Contents in Medieval English Manuscripts

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Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

This essay investigates tables of contents in Middle English or multilingual manuscripts of insular provenance. It describes the various systems used by book producers and later compilers and users to discover and locate material in manuscript codices and emphasises the importance of distinguishing between tables belonging to a single work and those designed for a particular codex. It demonstrates that tabulation practices have much to reveal about production processes and the actual and anticipated needs of readers. It argues that the needs of inexperienced readers and the problems they faced in using vernacular or multilingual multi-text codices shaped the development and provision of systems of tabulation. Whereas previously scholastic practices of compilatio and ordinatio have been considered key influences on the development of information retrieval apparatus, these new kinds of readers and books, the essay argues, were also important factors in this history.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDynamics of the Medieval Manuscript: Text Collections from a European Perspective
EditorsKaren Pratt, Ad Putter, Mathias Meyer, Bart Besamusca
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2017