The Reception and Transmission of the Bardic Grammars in Late Medieval and Early Modern Wales
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CitationJacques, Michaela. 2020. The Reception and Transmission of the Bardic Grammars in Late Medieval and Early Modern Wales. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThe medieval Welsh bardic grammars are a collection of vernacular treatises that describe the Welsh language and strict-metre poetry. From their emergence in written form in the early fourteenth century, into the second half of the sixteenth century, they were reworked extensively by a series of dominant users, in terms of both content and organisation. The changes made to these texts reveal important shifts in the ideologies and preoccupations of their editors. By identifying and examining these edits in minute detail, and by locating the grammars in their historical and codicological contexts, I trace their various uses over the course of some two hundred fifty years of continuous transmission. I argue that the edits examined in this dissertation were often innovative and meaningful; in particular, the understudied later copies of the bardic grammars reflect the changing concerns of the literate classes who produced and used them.
This dissertation offers a narrative of the development of the Welsh bardic grammars, from their first compilation (before c. 1330) to the third quarter of the sixteenth century. Arguing that they were composed initially in response to the increasing availability of written vernacular poetry, I suggest that the grammars are subsequently edited for numerous specific purposes. Subsequent versions become more logical and readable, are aligned or re-aligned with Latin grammatical writing, and pay increased attention to the performance of poetry. They are used to facilitate the teaching of Latin in the vernacular, to ensure the technically correct composition of poetry, and to support the social regulation of the bardic order. All of these uses are in turn intimately entwined with the rising literacy of the texts’ various users. This analysis of the changing functions of the grammars in late medieval and early modern Wales allows us an important glimpse into the evolutions of the intellectual milieu in which they were produced.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365759
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