The Orrmulum Project 1993–2013

Since the autumn of 1993 my research has primarily been focussed on various aspects of the twelfth century text Orrmulum, surviving in the manuscript Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 1. To mark the twentieth anniversary of my involvement with this work, my old Ormulum Project website has been replaced by this new Orrmulum Project website. The current section of the site contains two pages: ‘Introduction’, which gives a chronological survey of the work that I have been doing on Orrmulum so far, and ‘Acknowledgements’, where I list my major benefactors as well as individual colleagues who have provided valuable feedback in one way or another.

The section labelled MANUSCRIPT takes up a few aspects of the Orrmulum manuscript as a physical object: the numbering of various items within the manuscript, and the way the manuscript was produced in terms of quires and folios. This is information that is taken for granted as background knowledge in the next section of the site.

Once the transcription of the text was finished by 2003, I have increasingly focussed on the ways Orrm composed his text. This involves such matters as his techniques for rendering gospel passages in ways that suited his didactic purposes, as well as the ways in which he selects and combines Latin exegetical works to provide the ideas and phrases that served as the raw material for his own exegesis. Some aspects of these matters are presented in the section labelled TEXT.

The BIBLIOGRAPHY has been carried over from the old site. It has been corrected, brought up to date, and provided with links to online electronic publications. Otherwise it remains basically unchanged: I have attempted to collect references to works focussing chiefly on some aspect of Orrmulum; in a few cases I have also included works where Orrmulum is dealt with only as a side issue. My aim has been to err on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion; the reader who thinks I have still excluded works that should have been included is kindly requested to contact me in this connection.

And, in case someone wishes to share my impressions of working with the manuscript some fifteen years ago, there is a link to the old site as well. It will open in a separate window.

Feedback on what this site contains, and what it does not contain, is always welcome. Contact information is provided on the left.

Frescati, Stockholm, September 2013
Nils-Lennart Johannesson

The Orrmulum Project 2013–2014

Work on the Orrmulum Project continued apace in the autumn of 2013 and throughout 2014. I read different versions of a paper on lexical cruces in Orrmulum at The Twelfth Nordic Conference of English Studies in Uppsala, Sweden in October, 2013 and at The 25th SELIM Conference in Córdoba, Spain in December 2013. If all goes well, an extended version of that paper will appear in print in Studia Neophilologica in 2015.

In 2014 I read a paper on Orrm’s possible use of the two gospel harmonies by Zachary of Besançon (In Unum Ex Quatuor) and Clement of Llanthony (Concordia Quatuor Evangelistarum) at The 26th SELIM Conference in Morella, Spain in September, 2014. I have also added a section on ‘Text structure and punctuation’ to this site; it can be found under MANUSCRIPT/Description in the menu on the left. The site itself migrated to its current address in early December, a move made necessary by Stockholm University closing down the server that had housed the site since 2000. My thanks to Patrik Ekström Mežek, Department of English, Stockholm University, whose expert advice made the move painless.

Linghem, Flen, December 2014
Nils-Lennart Johannesson

The Orrmulum Project 2015–2016

The article mentioned above appeared duly under the title ‘Lexical Cruces in Orrmulum: The importance of context’ in Studia Neophilologica in 2015; for details, see the Bibliography. At the 2015 Stockholm Metaphor Festival I read a paper with the title ‘Sin and Atonement: Metaphor, sex and the writing of Orrmulum’. This was also the year when I made the first instalments of the ‘Gospel of the Week’ feature of this site. The aim is to present Orrm’s gospel harmony in weekly instalments over a four-year period; although very little of Orrm’s Middle English rendering of his ‘goddspelless’ has survived, it is still possible to recreate the main features of his text in Latin (with words from the Vulgate) and Early Modern English (with words from the Authorized Version). In 2015 I also started work on an analysis of Orrm’s syntax.

In April 2016, I presented two papers at the English Department of Marie Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland, one a general presentation of Orrmulum for undergraduate students, one on Orrm’s syntax for graduate students and staff with the title ‘Orrmulum Syntax: With Old English or Old Norse Roots’. Many thanks to Adam Glaz and his colleagues for their hospitality during my stay in Lublin!

At the IAUPE (International Association of University Professors of English) conference in London in July 2016 I also presented a paper on Orrm’s syntax with the title ‘Orrmulum Syntax: I-to-the-right or I-to-the-left?’. An analysis of 100 subordinate clauses with the verb WIRRKENN showed that Orrm’s syntax has examples of both Old English clause patterns (I to the right) and Old Norse clause patterns (I to the left). In the investigated sample, 26% of the clauses could be more easily derived using a model of word order corresponding to Old English, 2% could be more easily derived using a model of word order corresponding to Old Norse, and 72% were ambiguous between the two types of derivation. More work is obviously needed to define Orrm’s syntax typologically in a diachronic perspective. Links to my presentation and my handout are available on the main menu of this site, should anyone be interested.

Linghem, Flen, January 2017
Nils-Lennart Johannesson