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Cultures of the Fragment: Uses of the Iberian Manuscript, 1100–1600 by Heather Bamford (review)

Cultures of the Fragment: Uses of the Iberian Manuscript, 1100–1600 by Heather Bamford (review) Reviews bamford, heather. Cultures of the Fragment: Uses of the Iberian Manu- script, 1100–1600. U of Toronto P, 2018. 272 pp. “Evidence” and detective work have characterized medievalism at least since John Dagenais wrote in The Ethics of Reading in Manuscript Culture that “medi- evalism . . . is the only discipline I can think of that takes as its first move the suppression of its evidence” (xviii). This challenge, if we can call it that, is taken up gracefully in Heather Bamford’s Cultures of the Fragment, which spans five centuries and about as many linguistic traditions. Bamford refuses to throw away any evidence, and, in fact, almost literally goes dumpster diving into the trash heap left behind by medieval readers, writers, scribes, and owners of reading material. A prime example of this is the Cairo “Gheniza” that features prominently in the third chapter. The Gheniza, essentially a receptacle for discarded holy (and secular) texts owned by Jews, becomes the paradigmatic instance of how fragments, the least prestigious of relics, can change our understanding of texts which we thought we knew. For the most part, Bamford’s work is loyal to its extended title: Cultures of the Fragment: Uses of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Hispanic Review University of Pennsylvania Press

Cultures of the Fragment: Uses of the Iberian Manuscript, 1100–1600 by Heather Bamford (review)

Hispanic Review , Volume 87 (4) – Oct 24, 2019

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Pennsylvania Press.
ISSN
1553-0639

Abstract

Reviews bamford, heather. Cultures of the Fragment: Uses of the Iberian Manu- script, 1100–1600. U of Toronto P, 2018. 272 pp. “Evidence” and detective work have characterized medievalism at least since John Dagenais wrote in The Ethics of Reading in Manuscript Culture that “medi- evalism . . . is the only discipline I can think of that takes as its first move the suppression of its evidence” (xviii). This challenge, if we can call it that, is taken up gracefully in Heather Bamford’s Cultures of the Fragment, which spans five centuries and about as many linguistic traditions. Bamford refuses to throw away any evidence, and, in fact, almost literally goes dumpster diving into the trash heap left behind by medieval readers, writers, scribes, and owners of reading material. A prime example of this is the Cairo “Gheniza” that features prominently in the third chapter. The Gheniza, essentially a receptacle for discarded holy (and secular) texts owned by Jews, becomes the paradigmatic instance of how fragments, the least prestigious of relics, can change our understanding of texts which we thought we knew. For the most part, Bamford’s work is loyal to its extended title: Cultures of the Fragment: Uses of

Journal

Hispanic ReviewUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Oct 24, 2019

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