Listening to the Text: The Medieval Speech Bubble

From a culture where silent reading was unusual and a bit antisocial, it’s not surprising how much the “banderole” (the scrolls medieval artists used to represent speech in illustrations and other media) can teach us about the relationship between written and spoken language.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 7.02.17 AMRecently we discussed the interplay of script and image, which made me think of the banderole (Fr. “little banner”), which is essentially the medieval speech bubble. Sometimes referred to as angel banners, phylactère or speech scrolls, banderoles were employed by medieval artists and scribes as a visual way of conveying spoken words. —medievalfragments.