(Re)constructions: diplomatic and textual editing - MEMS8940

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 7 15 (7.5) David Rundle checkmark-circle


This module is designed to equip you with skills essential to textual study. On the one hand, it will consider diplomatic — that is, the construction of official documents — and help you decipher the strategies involved in the drafting, propagating and registering of those documents across the Middle Ages and into the early modern period. On the other, it will explain the strategies involved in editing literary texts, paying attention to how this has developed as a practice, and how it is continuing to change with computerised techniques. Together, these two traditions form the discipline of philology, and by studying them together, you will appreciate the fruitful interplay which has informed their development. You will have the opportunity to put into practice the skills which you learn.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 44
Total private study hours: 106 hours
Total module hours: 150 hours

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Presentation (2 x 20%) = 40%
Essay (4,000 words) = 60%

Reassessment methods:
Coursework 100%

Indicative reading

G. Barraclough, Public Notaries and the Papal Curia (Rome, 1934)
A. L. Brown, The Governance of Late Medieval England (London, 1989)
M. Camargo, Essays on Medieval Rhetoric (Farnham, 2012)
P. Chaplais, English Medieval Diplomatic Practice (London, 1982)
W. W. Greg, 'The Rationale of Copy-Text', Studies in Bibliography, 3 (1950-1), 19-37.
C. H√łgel and E. Bartoli ed., Medieval Letters (Turnhout, 2015)
R. B. McKerrow, Prolegomena for the Oxford Shakespeare: A study in editorial method (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1939)
T. Tanselle, Textual Criticism and Scholarly Editing (Virginia, 2003)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Appreciate the development of philology as a discipline
2. Understand the principles undertaken in the making of a diplomatic and critical edition
3. Reflect on the mediated nature of any text as presented in an edition
4. Understand the principles for identifying errors of transmission in printed texts
5. Recognise and understand the various kinds of editorial interventions and apparatuses introduced in historical and modern editions

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an ability to undertake philological work
2. Do so both as individual and as a member of a small team
3. Demonstrate how this work affects the understanding of a text as historical document and a literary artefact
4. Hone their skills at presenting complex information in an accessible manner to their peers


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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