Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level





William Quinn


With the introduction of the printing press to England around the mid-fifteenth century, English authors were not only writing under the lingering influence of Chaucer and the conventions of established medieval genres, but now had to confront the implications for reading and readership that printing brought with it along with the already turbulent political climate of the fifteenth century. Though this cultural shift was arguably a gradual one, with the earliest printers taking special care to remain faithful to the manuscripts they were copying, and conventional scribes likewise being commissioned to make copies of printed works, there were nevertheless radical innovations in text production and formatting being experimented with well before 1500 (Eisenstein 51-52). It was into this literary scene that The Book of St. Albans was published, a collection of treatises on hawking, hunting, and “other dyuers playsaunt materes belongynge unto noblesse” traditionally attributed to the Prioress Julyans Barnes (Barnes, rev. d viij). In spite of the book’s contemporary popularity, scholarship on the text has conventionally been limited to exploring the authenticity of the book’s authorship or relaying what the text reveals about the practicalities of late medieval sport. There has been a noticeable lack of analyses which read the collection as a cohesive literary text, which will be my endeavor throughout this project. Through this literary analysis, I hope to break free of the common trappings of previous scholarship and to showcase that The Book of St. Albans is a fascinating piece of secular literature in its own right which exemplifies the shifting consciousness of fifteenth century English society.