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Form and/as mode of existence

Gilbert, JL; (2020) Form and/as mode of existence. Romanic Review , 111 (1) pp. 27-47. 10.1215/00358118-8007950. Green open access

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Abstract

Part of a special number, “Category Crossings: Bruno Latour and Medieval Modes of Existence”. This essay focuses on two of the 'modes of existence' posited by Latour in his recent An Inquiry into Modes of Existence (AIME). The essay compares and contrasts the modes of REF and FIC with a famous digression reflecting on historiographical practice in William of Malmesbury’s Gesta regum Anglorum (1125 and after, Latin prose). I argue that AIME offers analytical rigour to medievalists’ discussions of the notorious overlap between ‘history’ and ‘fiction’ in this case (and by implication, in other cases); I also argue that William’s bold use of FIC to advance REF is in the spirit of AIME’s project, but goes further in trusting FIC than AIME is always willing to do. Thus, an instance of medieval historiography leads the way in overcoming a residual Modern suspicion of FIC. The essay also argues that, although AIME’s restriction of crossings to two modes is useful for defining each individual mode, in practice more than two are often found ‘plaited’. I make this argument through a discussion of the practice of using brackets to mark verse form and rhyme scheme in some medieval manuscripts: an example of the TEC.FIC.REF plaiting. Finally, I argue for a development of the multimodal possibilities of ‘form’, which AIME flags but does not pursue. I suggest that FOR might be another ‘mode of existence’ to add to the list.

Type: Article
Title: Form and/as mode of existence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1215/00358118-8007950
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1215/00358118-8007950
Language: English
Keywords: Bruno Latour, William of Malmesbury, Medieval manuscripts, Brackets, historiography, fiction, networks, modes of existence
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10053459
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