Despite much attention being paid over the last decades to medieval literacy and communication, hardly any attention has been given to the ways those in the margins of medieval society communicated among themselves and with those who had established themselves at the centre of society. And yet there is information available for the study of the non-verbal, oral and written communication by beggars and vagabonds, robbers and thieves, gypsies and lepers – to name but a few of the groups living at the edge of society. At the Leeds International Medieval Congress a round table discussion was organised on Monday, 3 July 2017, to address the possibilities and impossibilities of studying marginal groups from the perspective of literacy and communication. The participants included Eliza Hartrich (University of Sheffield), Anti Selart (University of Tartu), and Henry Summerson (Oxford, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). To give some guidance to the participants, a short text was produced by Marco Mostert and Anna Adamska (both from Utrecht University) which can be found here. This short text will be replaced by a more developed text in 2018; it will duly appear on this page.
The round table had as its main purpose to see whether there would be enough interest to organise sessions on this decidedly underdeveloped topic during the IMC in years to come. Anyone who, after having read the short text on this page (or indeed after having read the extended version that will appear here in due course), wants to join in this new line of research, can send a message to either Marco Mostert (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Anna Adamska (email@example.com). We envisage organising sessions at the Leeds IMC in July 2019.