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Distributed for Bodleian Library Publishing

Designing English

Early Literature on the Page

Early manuscripts in the English language included religious works, plays, romances, poetry, and songs, as well as charms, notebooks, and scientific documents. Given this vast array, how did scribes choose to arrange the words and images on the page, and what visual guides did they give early readers to help them use and understand each manuscript?

Working beyond the traditions established for Latin, scribes of English needed to be more inventive, using each book as an opportunity to redesign. Surveying eight centuries of graphic design in manuscripts and inscriptions, Designing English focuses on the craft, agency, and intentions of scribes, painters, and engravers from the Anglo-Saxon to the early Tudor periods. The book examines format, layout, and decoration, as well as bilingual manuscripts and oral recitations, weighing the balance of ingenuity and copying, imagination and practicality, behind early English book design. With over ninety illustrations, drawn especially from the holdings of the Bodleian Library, Designing English gives a comprehensive overview of English books and other material texts across the Middle Ages.

224 pages | 92 color plates | 9 1/4 x 10 1/4 | © 2017


History: General History

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"Covering a wide range of genres, including religious texts, poetry, songs, plays, and medieval medicine manuscripts, Designing English: Early Literature on the Page aspires to map out the evolution of the burgeoning English lexicon and the connection of words to images. How these elements evolved became templates for the protocols defining print and other material texts during the Middle Ages and into the modern age, according to this book."

Communication Booknotes Quarterly

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