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We assume that cues through visual highlighting are central in the identification of paratextual elements. Our approach is informed by Carroll et al. who study the pragmatic functions of visual highlighting in medieval manuscripts (2013). Their model of four visual cues for highlighting discourse organization include color, size, change or contrast in style, and prominence in contrast to the "body text" due to positioning. We assume that paratextual elements are separated from the text through similar visual means. Influenced also by Stanitzek's view of the problems of spatial attributes in paratextuality (2005), we have identified three elements which may be in contradiction to the presupposition of spatial separation, and hence are situated at the border of paratextuality: initials, typography, and notes. Each is discussed in a separate subsection below. Finally, it should be noted that as we are primarily interested in paratextual material that overlaps with text, we have chosen to leave out title pages and tables but have included prologues and dedications in our analysis.


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The text-organizing functions of initials--the larger, often engraved, painted, and/or decorated letters at the beginning of a section of text--have been discussed by manuscript scholars at length (see e.g. PARTRIDGE 2011, 85; PEIKOLA 2008; DEROLEZ 2003, 48-50 and passim), yet initials have been overlooked as part of paratextual typology. This may be because typographical and visual features only receive a cursory treatment in Genette's (1997b) original formulation (see 3.2 below). However, we view initials as ideal for problematizing the borders of paratext as they perform their functions through both visual and textual, material and linguistic forms. In this section, we explore the paratextuality of the initial through an examination of two early printed books and two manuscripts.

Two manuscripts were studied as evidence of late medieval paratextuality: the Brut copies MS Eng 104 and 102. (9) In MS Eng 104, the text begins imperfectly at chapter 101. The initial program is consistent: each chapter begins with an initial, almost exclusively of three lines in height. (10) All are in the immediate textual context of rubrics in red ink (see Figure 2).

The decoration also follows a consistent pattern: blue ink and gold leaf alternate and each letter is pen-flourished. The pattern is common in the manuscripts produced in this period and gilded initials are not to be interpreted as more important than blue ones. The historical context of the text's production plays a role within the identification of the elements: a reader not familiar with the conventions may be led to misinterpret the structure of the text. Similarly, the form might be misleading if the producer was not familiar with the content. In her study of hagiographical manuscripts, Snijders (2015, 64-65) argues that the size of the space reserved for an initial (measured in lines) is a better way to judge its importance than details of illumination, as the illuminator was not necessarily familiar with the text. Therefore, the empty space may reflect textual hierarchies better than colors or other details of illumination.

While Genette has noted the "paratextual value" of typography (1997b, 7, 34), its exact position in the paratextual theory is left vague. Consequently, the paratextuality of typography (and, to a lesser extent, script) has been debated in subsequent studies. Stanitzek, for example, classifies typography as paratext, stating that "no text ever has a truly paratext-free moment" (2005, 30). (12) Rockenberger & Rocken take the opposite approach, arguing that "typography could [...] be seen as a material feature at least of the publisher's peritext and a fortiori as its prerequisite, without having to count as an element of paratext i.e. peritext" (2010, our translation). (13) In a rare consideration of the issue in manuscript materials, Merveldt concludes that as the incipit functions as a title while sharing spatial, textual and visual space with the text, it must be classified as belonging to both text and paratext (2008). These debates, however, focus on typography on a general level, and we find it more fruitful to shift the focus to changes in the presentation of text. (14) Kaislaniemi calls changes in textual presentation typeface- and script-switching (2017). (15) The terms refer to changes in letterforms; however, other means of highlighting, such as changes of color, underlining, size, and the use of white space, are equally important for our enquiry. In this section, we study two manuscripts and two printed sources to see whether the highlighting of typeface and script indicates paratextuality. We began our analysis by collecting data on highlighted elements.

As medieval manuscripts have rarely been analyzed as part of paratextual typology, it is necessary to begin by considering what textual and visual features could be viewed as notes in this context (see, however, GENETTE 1997b, 320 for a brief consideration of glosses). We do not subscribe to the view of paratextuality being dependent on authorship, nor are we satisfied with spatial separation being a defining feature of notes. We define note as something commenting on another text or a point in the text, usually with some type of visual highlighting to separate notes from the text. This view is influenced by the partially overlapping concepts of gloss, marginalia, annotation, and commentary. (24) However, we do subscribe to Genette's idea of optionality: notes can be skipped without the text losing its coherence.

All elements examined in Section 3 above confirm that paratextual functionality is not limited to elements that are spatially separated from the text. Moreover, while neither form nor function alone is sufficient in determining the paratextual status of an element, we maintain that in identifying paratextual elements in medieval and early modern materials, visual highlighting is a strong indicator of paratextuality. Typeface- and scriptswitches, changes in color, underlining, and spatial separation through space and placement, especially in interaction with one another, help the reader to navigate the page and make decisions as to the functions of the highlighted elements.

HARDMAN, Phillipa. 1997. "Windows into the Text: Unfilled Spaces in Some Fifteenth-Century English Manuscripts". In Texts and Their Contexts: Papers from the Early Book Society, edited by John SCATTERGOOD and Julia BOFFEY, 44-70. Dublin: Four Courts Press.

(24.) Gloss refers to a translation or clarification of the text, commonly found in medieval manuscripts. It may be one word or several in length, and situated either in the margin or between lines. The definitions of gloss and marginalia overlap with those of the note, although the interlinear position is reserved to glosses, while marginalia refers to all kinds of elements in the margins, whether printed, handwritten, or drawn. Annotation and commentary refer to material additional to the text of the work, typically sharing material space with the text. Annotation may also be used for glosses and marginalia while commentary is a discussion on another work, typically legal or biblical. It should be noted that commentary refers to content, whereas gloss and marginalia concentrate on material elements visible on the page. For definitions for these terms, see e.g. BROWN 1994, BEAL 2008. 041b061a72

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