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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Orality—understood as the oral delivery of texts—is often assumed to have given way to literacy—the private reading of texts—over the course of the medieval period. The two entities are mutually exclusive and can be placed in a relationship of evolution that has preoccupied scholars of Middle English literature. Orality differs from “aurality,” which is defined as “the shared hearing of written texts” and combines aspects of both orality and literacy. Most scholars steer around the subject of aurality for a variety of reasons. This article explores some of the issues involved in aurality, explicates the practice of aurality, and considers some of the many potential directions for future research. It focuses on reports of British reading, with occasional references to the more abundant evidence about French and Burgundian reading, as well as recreational literature.

Keywords: reading, medieval period, Middle English literature, aurality, orality, literacy, recreational literature

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