Deborah outlines her proposed research project here:
I will spend the next three years working on a manuscript study of the Irish treatise on linguistic and poetic theory entitled Auraicept na nÉces, ‘The Scholars’ Primer’, which has long been recognised as a valuable source for the study of literary and intellectual life in medieval Ireland. The Auraicept consists of a concise core of text, possibly datable to as early as the eighth century, to which a copious amount of commentary was subsequently added; the abundance of this commentary testifies to the considerable popularity of the work amongst medieval Irish scholars over an extended period. The Auraicept represents one of the earliest sustained attempts in Western grammatical tradition to contrast a classical language with a vernacular one, as it weaves native terminology, ideas and allusions into a structural framework heavily influenced by classical doctrine on grammar and rhetoric. The work’s commentators drew upon a range of different sources, revealing not only what they perceived to be of importance in the study of their language, but also how they articulated the relationships between linguistic theory, rhetorical practice and literary authority. Recent scholarship has begun to re-evaluate the Auraicept’s seminal role in Latin and vernacular learning in medieval Ireland, its contribution to our understanding of medieval literary genre, and the light it sheds on Ireland’s engagements with continental Europe in the medieval period. However, several manuscript copies of the treatise have still not been comprehensively examined, and it is the aim of my project to fulfil the need for an in-depth and up-to-date study of the Auraicept’s manuscript transmission, including further research into the nature and sources of its accreted scholia.