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“Manuscripts and the Forms of Middle English Literary Texts,” the Forty-Fifth Conference on Editorial Problems, convened by Peter Buchanan, Alexandra Gillespie, and Helen Marshall, will be held on 6–8 November 2009 at St Michael's College and at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto.


The purpose of the workshop is to bring together Canadian graduate students and leading scholars from the field of Middle English studies to investigate the relationship between the forms of Middle English literary texts and the forms of the medieval manuscripts in which they remain – in particular, those material forms left behind or elided by modern editorial processes.

Over a three-day period, there will be seven longer papers by senior scholars, nine short papers by graduate students, and a round table discussion with two leading editors of Middle English texts. Papers will consider the problems and opportunities presented by manuscript studies to scholars interested in the recent revival of formalism as an approach to Middle English literary texts. Participants will deal with, among other topics: the materials of book manufacture; the composition of quires and codices; the dialect of scribes; scribal corrections; the layout of the page; the layout of stanzas and other metrical forms; visual cues to readers; and the illustration of texts. The workshop aims to describe ways in which the medieval book – as an object different from a modern printed or digital edition – is involved in establishing the literary meaning of a text.


Registration for the conference will take place at the Father Madden auditorium in Carr Hall, St Michael’s College. All sessions on Saturday and Sunday will take place at the Centre for Medieval Studies on the third floor of the Lillian Massey Building (LM).  Please see the conference map for details.


14:00 Registration Opens – Father Madden auditorium, Carr Hall, St Michael’s College
15:15 – 15:30    Opening Remarks – Father Madden auditorium, Carr Hall, St Michael’s College

15:30 – 17:00    THE LITERARY FORM OF THE BOOK – Father Madden auditorium, Carr Hall, St Michael’s College
Chair: Michael Raby (University of Toronto)
D. Vance Smith (Princeton University)
 Andrew Taylor (University of Ottawa)

17:00 – 18:00   LITERARY FORM AND MANUSCRIPT PRACTICE – Father Madden auditorium, Carr Hall, St Michael’s College
Chair: Brandon Alakas (Queen’s University)
 Timothy Harrison (University of Toronto)
 Noelle Phillips (University of British Columbia)
 Helen Marshall (University of Toronto)

18:00 – 19:30   RECEPTION – Laurence Shook Common Room, Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies


9:00 – 10:00   BREAKFAST – The Great Hall, Lillian Massey Building (LM), Centre for Medieval Studies

10:00 – 11:30    SCRIBES AND AUTHORS I – (LM 301)
Chair: Jason Peters University of Toronto)
 Simon Horobin (University of Oxford)
 David Watt (University of Manitoba)

11:30 – 12:00   COFFEE BREAK – The Great Hall

12:00 – 13:00    SCRIBES AND AUTHORS II – (LM 301)
Chair: Agatha Hansen (Queen’s University)
 Emma Gorst (University of Toronto)  
 Jake Morrissey (McGill University)
 Kathleen Ogden (University of Toronto)

13:00 – 14:15   LUNCH – The Great Hall

14:15 – 15:45   ORDER AND LAYOUT I – (LM 301)
Chair: Karen Ward (University of Waterloo)
 Jessica Brantley (Yale University)
 Daniel Wakelin (University of Cambridge)

15:45 – 16:15   COFFEE BREAK – The Great Hall

16:15 – 17:15   ORDER AND LAYOUT II – (LM 301)
Chair: Emily Butler (University of Toronto)
 Peter Buchanan (University of Toronto)
 Josie Panzuto (Université de Montréal)
 Alysa Procida (University of Toronto)

17:15 – 18:45   RECEPTION – Trinity College, Provost’s Lodge


9:00 – 10:00   BREAKFAST – The Great Hall

Chair: Jonathan Abresch (University of Toronto)
 Martha Rust (New York University)
 Alexandra Gillespie (University of Toronto)

11:30 – 12:00   COFFEE BREAK – The Great Hall

 Murray McGillivray (University of Calgary)
 William Robins (University of Toronto)


We thank the following sponsors for their financial and logistical support: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; the Centre for Medieval Studies (University of Toronto); the English Department (University of Toronto); the Book History and Print Culture Program (University of Toronto); Massey College in the University of Toronto; Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies; University of St Michael's College; University of Trinity College; and Victoria University in the University of Toronto.


There are additional places at the workshop: academics and graduate students with an established research interest in the field of medieval manuscripts studies or Middle English literature, or a related field (especially in textual or literary studies), can write to Peter Buchanan, for a registration form and any further information required.

Note that participants must register for the whole workshop and be prepared to read materials circulated electronically in advance. There will be a charge ($40 unwaged/$60 waged) for catering costs. Admission to the workshop will be on a 'first come, first served' basis. Registration closes on 1 November.

Information for visitors

Visitors to the Centre for Medieval Studies, the University of Toronto, and also to the city, may wish to consult the CEP's information pages, elsewhere on this site.  Speakers at the workshop will be accommodated at the Holiday Inn Midtown. The following Google Map flags the Lillian Massey Building (Centre for Medieval Studies), Carr Hall in the University of St Michael's College, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, the University of Trinity College, and the Holiday Inn.

View Manuscripts and the Forms of Middle English Literary Texts in a larger map