Rachel Fletcher

Rachel Fletcher

email - r.fletcher.1@research.gla.ac.uk

Research Title

Challenging periodisation in the evolution of English: a lexicographical perspective

Research Summary

Conventional presentation of Old and Middle English material draws a boundary between these two periods at c.1066 that, since linguistic change is gradual, is inevitably arbitrary. Recently, leading scholars have called for a more nuanced treatment of the transition. For lexicographers, the issue is especially timely with the recent completion of the Middle English Dictionary (MED) and continuing work on the Dictionary of Old English (DOE). Misleading labels on resources (e.g. collections of “Old English” texts) hamper precise examination of the historical record and compromise the effective use of data from early English. Similarly, rigid periodisation prohibits a fully contextualised study of language development and change during the late-eleventh and twelfth centuries.

The ambiguity regarding periodisation and its effects has not been systematically investigated; my research aims to examine the effect of this as seen in dictionaries, and to trace the influence of these dictionaries on the wider field of Old and Middle English studies, addressing questions of how modern categorisation and our reliance on the legacy of earlier scholarship have shaped our understanding of the past. I will analyse the practical and theoretical issues behind current treatment of the period boundary, and use lexicographical history to gauge the influence of preceding scholarship, ultimately demonstrating the advantages of a holistic, inclusive approach towards the mediaeval period.

Academia.edu page: https://glasgow.academia.edu/RachelFletcher

Personal research blog: https://rachelafletcher.wordpress.com

Three Minute Thesis research summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNx4EehCWbE

Publications

  • Fletcher, Rachel. 2018. “Most Active and Effectual Assistance” in the Correspondence of Sir William Dugdale and William Somner. Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik 78 (2-3). 166-184.
  • Fletcher, Rachel. 2015. Englicious: Teaching English Grammar in Schools. English Today 31 (4). 63-64.

Grants

Grants & Awards

Conference

2019

William Somner Conference, Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library [invited speaker at public event]

  • Somner's Dictionary

English Historical Lexicography in the Digital Age, University of Bergamo

  • The Old English-Middle English Period Boundary in Electronic Dictionaries

Tenth International Conference on Historical Lexicography and Lexicology (ICHLL-10), Fryske Akademy Leeuwarden

  • A Minor Period of a Major Language: Lexicographical Approaches to Late Old English

Sixth international symposium on the History of English Lexicography and Lexicology (HEL-LEX6), Gargnano

  • Period Dictionaries and their Limits: The Case of Old English

International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds [as session co-organiser]

  • Lexicography and New Old English: Dictionaries as Translation Tools

 

2018

Ninth International Conference on Historical Lexicography and Lexicology (ICHLL-9), University of Genova

  • Old and Middle English in Glossaries and Dictionaries: Where are the Boundaries? [Poster presentation]

International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds

  • Remembering and Curating Old English Style

Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas Annual Colloquium, University of Maynooth

  • Defining the Boundaries: the history of periodisation in dictionaries of Old English

 

2017

Fifth international symposium on the History of English Lexicography and Lexicology (HEL-LEX5), University of Zurich

  • William Somner’s approach to Old English in the light of later lexicography

Cambridge Colloquium in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (CCASNC)

  • William Somner’s Dictionarium Saxonico-Latino-Anglicum: defining the identity of early Anglo-Saxon studies

Borderlines XXI: Authority in the Medieval and Early Modern World, University College Cork

  • The Authority of the Dictionary: how Somner’s Dictionarium shaped the study of Old English in the seventeenth century and beyond

Recovering the Past interdisciplinary conference, University of York

  • "A Guide in Lands Unknown": William Somner's dictionary of Old English

Challenging Grand Narratives workshop, Trinity College Dublin

  • Periodisation in Lexicography: a case study

Medieval and Early Modern Student Association conference: Uses of the Past in the Medieval and Early Modern World, Durham University

  • "A Guide in Lands Unknown": William Somner's dictionary of Old English, its sources and influence

Medieval Glossaries International Exploratory Workshop, St Gall, Switzerland

  • Anglo-Saxon glossaries and Somner’s Dictionarium Saxonico-Latino-Anglicum

Scholarly Correspondence on Medieval Germanic Language and Literature symposium, University of Leiden

  • “Most active and effectual assistance” in the correspondence of Sir William Dugdale and William Somner

Teaching

2019 - 20

As GTA:

  • ENGLANG1001 English Language & Linguistics 1A: Language, Meaning & Power
  • ENGLANG1003 English Language & Linguistics 1B: Language, Society & Change
  • ENGLANG2004 English Language & Linguistics 2A: Language, People, and Culture
  • ENGLANG2005 English Language & Linguistics 2B: Language, Mind, and Expression
  • ENGLANG4035: Heroes, Outlaws, and Outsiders: Old English and Old Icelandic Literature in Translation

As guest lecturer:

  • ENGLANG4035 Heroes, Outlaws, and Outsiders: Old English and Old Icelandic Literature in Translation - lecture: The Old English 'Judith' 
  • ENGLANG4037 / ENGLANG5097 History of English - lecture: History of Lexicography

Additional Information

Organisational Committees

  • 'From Old English to Middle English' sessions at IMC Leeds: co-organiser 2020
  • 'Early Medieval English in the Modern Age: Old English across temporal borders' sessions at IMC Leeds: co-organiser 2020
  • 'Rematerializing Old English after 1500' sessions at IMC Leeds: co-organiser 2019
  • eSharp and The Kelvingrove Review: editorial team 2017-18
  • Women, Place and Belonging symposium, University of Glasgow: organising committee 2017
  • Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster: organising committee 2018

 

Other Roles

Reading groups: for more information, or to join the mailing lists, please email me.

  • Old English
  • Old Norse
  • Lexicography (with Karoliina Ollikainen)