freeing poetry from the page

May 1, 2013

Trevisa's life sits on a cusp -  between oral memory, ritualised in the songs of the chantry house, and literacy, between Latin texts and the emergence of English vernacular writings.

 

Trevisa, as a translator from Latin texts into English, had to invent new vernacular vocabulary to express concepts that previously had not been expressable except by the privileged minority who had received a classical education, and enabled us to philosophise in our native tongue. The words concept, fiction, virtual, accidentally, for example, are all words that we owe to him.

 

Shortly after his death in 1405, the manuscript - the product of scribal technologies - started to be superceded by print. But while there is evidence in the archive about Trevisa's epic feats of translation, there is little to tell us about his early life.

 

The Trevisa Project re-imagines the book as an interactive room-like space that Frank den Oudsten might call a post-spectacular stage and Frances Yates mght call a memory palace.  It relies, just like manuscript production in the Middle Ages, on inter-disciplinary collaboration between specialists with different areas of expertise.

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