the ouerreder and attentijf studier or How Mistakes Happen in a Medieval Textual Tradition

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Using the Middle English Mirror as its central example, this paper considers the multiple ways in which errors and misreadings could creep into the written history of a medieval text. The Mirror, a cycle of Sunday gospel sermons written in prose, was translated in London in the late fourteenth century from the Miroir, a thirteenth-century Anglo-Norman verse sermon cycle. Some puzzling readings in the Middle English may be attributed to a lack of attention on the part of the translator of the Anglo-Norman text. Other mistakes arose from inattentiveness on the part of the scribes who copied the English text. One Middle English manuscript, Glasgow University Library, MS Hunter 250, is heavily corrected, and although some of its interventions were scribal, others were the result of over-reading by later users. These layers of attention and distraction are explored through a series of examples from the English sermons and their French source
Period2 Dec 2022
Held atUniversite de Poitiers, France
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • attention
  • Middle English literature
  • Anglo-Norman
  • Middle Ages
  • textual criticism
  • literary criticism
  • The Mirror
  • Le Miroir