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Research Group for Medieval Philology
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Preaching, Communication, and Communities: The Sermon Manuscripts of 11th and 12th-Century England

Inka Moilanen (Stockholm University) discusses the material aspects of sermon manuscripts in the context of the sermon as a literary genre.

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodl. 343 (s. xii ¾), fol. viii_v (detail)
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodl. 343 (s. xii ¾), fol. viii_v (detail)
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Bodleian Library, Oxford

Preaching formed an important part in how the clergy transmitted their views on correct and improper behaviour to society. Evaluation of its workings, however, is challenging, since our interpretations are based on written documents, which do not directly translate into how sermons were used in an oral context. In this presentation, the corpus of sermon manuscripts from 11th and 12th-century England is discussed from a point of view that takes into account the material aspects of manuscript survival and the potential of this material to illuminate the practices of communication. The presentation pays particular attention to the flexibility of the sermon as a literary genre, and considers the different textual contexts in which sermons and homilies were re-used and copied.