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Mouvance is a concept developed by Paul Zumthor (1972) to account for and explain the range of variability found in mediaeval (and predominately anonymous) literary material. The concept relies on a distinction between a 'work', a complex collective of textual manifestations, and the individual texts, or traces, of the work. This perspective de-emphasises the hierarchy of traditional textual criticism and reconstruction while focusing on the network of interactions, both oral and written, that attends all stages of transmission and can be evinced in individual witnesses.


Fig. 1. Schematic representation of the relationship between text and work which yields mouvance (from Zumthor 1972, p. 92).


– Zumthor, Paul. 1972. Essai de poétique médiévale. Paris: Seuil.

In other languages

French term used throughout.


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