Take Note: Listening to French Literature in the Long Thirteenth Century


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


French Literature, Thought, and Culture


“Take Note” offers a new account of musical notation in the textual culture of medieval France. While an abundance of written music distinguishes manuscripts of thirteenth-century French narrative and song from contemporary vernacular traditions elsewhere in Europe, its role in shaping the reception of these works has gone largely unexplored in literary scholarship. This project affirms notation’s centrality to literary meaning in the French Middle Ages by showing that it was not only a source of musical information, but a tool to orient interpretive focus and aural attention. Lending a new ear to foundational works of early French literature, “Take Note” identifies their manuscript sources as a key site of experimentation with premodern media technologies and of reflection on how to listen to – and ultimately understand – the texts they transmit.