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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Luke Sunderland

Sunderland, Luke (2016). Introduction: Medieval Libraries, History of the Book and Literature. French Studies 70(2): 159-170.

Author(s) from Durham


Medieval libraries are studied as collections of books, but much less frequently as collections of ideas. They are somewhat neglected by literary scholars, who tend to define the parameters of their studies in terms of authors, genres, themes, traditions, or movements, rather than library collections. Such critics are interested in where individual texts come from or where they go, and much less in which texts were gathered together in libraries and thus made sense together. Studies have increased awareness of the intertextuality of medieval literature, especially of the interplay between literature and philosophy in the later Middle Ages: medieval literary texts were of course in dialogue with other sorts of knowledge.1 But the potential for using popular literary texts — the incontournables of medieval libraries — to inform an idea of what those libraries symbolized, or how they were conceived or used, remains unexploited. Nor has the medieval library...