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Orrmulum: Genre membership and text organisation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2013 (English)In: Of butterflies and birds, of dialects and genres: Essays in honour of Philip Shaw / [ed] Nils-Lennart Johannesson, Gunnel Melchers, Beyza Björkman, Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2013, 77-89 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses the genre membership of the twelfth-century Middle English exegetical work named by its author Orrmulum. The work is usually described as a homily collection, but a closer analysis shows that it combines properties of two contemporary text genres. On the one hand it exhibits some typical features of a homiliary (homily collection), such as a verse-by-verse exegesis of gospel texts (while lacking others, such as following the arrangement of the gospel texts (lections) in the Missal, as these are presented chronologically for each Mass throughout the liturgical year). On the other hand the work exhibits some properties of a gospel harmony, a kind of text whose aim is to combine the narratives of the four gospels into one coherent story (while it lacks other properties, such as independence of the Missal).

The Preface of Orrmulum can similarly be shown to be of mixed genre member-ship. On the one hand it has all the properties of a Ciceronian praefatio, in that it comments on the relationship between the author and various other people, such as his patron, his readers, his copyist, and his detractors. On the other hand it shows the typical features of the prologue of a twelfth-century exegetical work (a “type C prologue”, Minnis 1985): it presents the name of the author and of the work, it states the usefulness of the work, etc.

This paper also outlines the textual organisation of Orrmulum, since the marking of these matters in the author’s holograph manuscript is only poorly represented in the standard edition (Holt 1878), and therefore unknown to any reader of the text who does not go back to the manuscript.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2013. 77-89 p.
Stockholm studies in English, ISSN 0346-6272 ; 104
Keyword [en]
Orrmulum, Middle English, homilies
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90992ISBN: 978-91-87235-34-4OAI: diva2:629541
For the Good of Their Souls: A study of the Latin sources and how they were modified in the composition of the twelfth-century homily collection Orrmulum
Swedish Research Council, 2010-2094
Available from: 2013-06-17 Created: 2013-06-17 Last updated: 2013-06-18Bibliographically approved

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