Creating the medieval reader: Old media, new media, and textual interactivity, 1380–1500

Heather Blatt, Fordham University


Creating the Medieval Reader reconstructs overlooked modes of reading in medieval England that both anticipated and shaped reader participation. Drawing on theories of audience participation that have emerged from the field of new media studies, this study demonstrates that our notions of medieval reading must take into account the fluid, collaborative modes that writers encouraged in their vernacular audiences, before as well as after the introduction of print. The interactive reading practices studied include emendation, immersion, and nonlinear and multimedia apprehension. John Lydgate (whose works thread through all four chapters, including Siege of Thebes and Troy Book) provides a rich source of information about interactive reading practices, and his work is juxtaposed with texts ranging from the devotional Book of Margery Kempe to the occasional verse of Thomas More. Studying these interactive, participatory modes of reading sheds new light on the relationships among authors and audiences, writers’ authority and readers’ agency, during a crucial period in the development of English literary culture. Creating the Medieval Reader shows how writers in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, even as they create themselves as authors, work to fashion their readers as co-creators.

Subject Area

Medieval literature

Recommended Citation

Blatt, Heather, "Creating the medieval reader: Old media, new media, and textual interactivity, 1380–1500" (2011). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3474122.