Voices in Medieval History Writing

Claudia Claridge


This article investigates speech and writing presentation in medieval historiography, based on (excerpts from) six texts from the Old and Middle English periods, and focusing on the functional aspect. It shows that in order to capture pecularities of the register/genre, approaches from the fields of evidentiality, evaluation/appraisal, and literary as well as academic stylistics need to be combined. Three functional groups of quoting are identified: (i) providing evidence/proof (in similar but not identical ways to modern academic practices) and borrowing authority from suitable texts (e.g. the Bible), (ii) direct or indirect evaluation, also by foregrounding through quotation, and (iii) various narrative functions such as plot advancement, characterization, focusing, and the creation of greater reader involvement. Besides references to writing and speaking, the article also highlights the potential significance of references to hearing, in particular in oral cultures.

Full Text: PDF