Interview with Laurie Atkinson

Our next seminar will be taken by Laurie Atkinson on 12th February 2018. As usual tea and biscuits will be served at 17:40 with the seminar starting at 18:00. Below we talked to Laurie about being a Northumbrian and the thrill and dread of deciphering manuscripts.

Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from?

My village sits on the border between County Durham and Tyne and Wear, so I just say that I’m a Northumbrian! I did my undergraduate in English at Durham, then spent last year in Cambridge studying for an MPhil in Medieval Literature.

What brought you to Durham?

Why go down South for Chaucer’s Boece when you’ve got an autograph of Hoccleve’s Series at home?


What is your favourite thing about the medieval/early modern period?

It’s got to be the manuscripts. I still get a thrill every time I open a codex, followed by a dim sense of dread when I realise that I’ve got to read the thing!

What does your research focus on?

My research focuses on late medieval dream-poetry and its paratexts. I’m interested in the way that conceptions of authorship encoded in the dream-frames of vernacular literary works are transmitted and re-imagined in manuscript to print. Chaucer, Lydgate, Skelton and Caxton all get a look in, but I’m most excited about some of the dream-poem’s less known practitioners, as the form begins to wane at the turn of the sixteenth century.

What do you plan to focus on in your seminar?

I’m going to be speaking about Gavin Douglas, an early sixteenth-century Scots bishop, diplomat, and ‘humanist’, who also turned his hand to poetry. Specifically, I’ll be looking at Douglas’ Eneados of 1513, the first full English translation of the Aeneid. I want to think about Douglas’s place within the textual communities of Scotland and continental Europe, the extent to which his Eneados warrants the epithet of a seminally ‘Renaissance’ translation, but also the unmistakable influence of insular, vernacular literary traditions in the remarkable prologues to his epic.

If you were not in academia, what would you be doing?

I dread to think. I know Cooplands are hiring.

Do you have a favourite medieval/early modern text?

I rly lyk the Eneados. Hoccleve is gr8 2. Ttyl. C u @ MEMSA x


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