Tall tales from the archive

Prescott, A. (2019) Tall tales from the archive. In: Jahner, J., Steiner, E. and Tyler, E. M. (eds.) Medieval Historical Writing: Britain and Ireland, 500-1500. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, pp. 356-369. ISBN 9781107163362 (doi:10.1017/9781316681299.021)

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Abstract

The administrative documents preserved in archives tell stories which are shaped by their institutional and governmental context, and are as deceptive and full of invention as more self-consciously literary works. Medieval archives contain a vast repository of historical narratives which, despite their fictional components and bureaucratic manipulation, nevertheless provide vivid insights into everyday life. The rhetorical conventions of such bureaucratic documents as pardons, petitions and appeals represent forms of historical literature which are cultural productions of equal significance to the chronicle or the epic poem. But, unlike court poetry or chronicles, the archives tell us a great deal about the life of ordinary people. In the wake of the discussion of the archive by Foucault and Derrida, the archive has been seen as a symbol of power and a means of control, but often the archive is the chief means by which non-elite groups find their voice.

Item Type:Book Sections
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Prescott, Professor Andrew
Authors: Prescott, A.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CD Diplomatics. Archives. Seals
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CD Diplomatics. Archives. Seals > CD921 Archives
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISBN:9781107163362

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