Mysteries of the Medieval Manuscript
Medieval books are a treasure trove of exciting finds! Upon close inspection, they reveal as much about their original writers and readers as they do about us. (English / Certificate*)
Time: 19:00-20:00 hrs.
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Before the mass production that the printing press made possible, books were a singular product of creation - each unique and imperfect. These imperfections and unique characteristics allow modern scholars to piece together the story of our intellectual history. But how exactly does this work? Which imperfections show a relevant development, and which are just a random occurrence?
Personalities on paper
The medieval manuscripts that book historians inspect are more than just words on paper (or parchment, rather). With scribes scribbling sarcastic remarks in the margins and illustrators occasionally going quite a bit beyond their brief, manuscripts offer up many interesting characteristics to explore. In some exemplars, we can find evidence of students doodling, giving us an intimate insight into their minds. There is more to be admired in these carefully bound works than simply astonishing penmanship: they contain multitudes of personalities!
Back to the roots
In the 21st century, we take most of the nuances of our informational infrastructure for granted. By going back to the root of written intellectual discourse, we can actually see the unwritten rules of communication and representation come into being over the course of several centuries of manual artistry.
- Prof. dr. Erik Kwakkel is Professor at the University of British Columbia, where he teaches and conducts research on the History of the Book. Kwakkel is widely recognized as an international expert in medieval manuscripts, and his work is featured in a variety of public news outlets such as BBC World Service, CBC radio, CNN, and the Smithsonian Journal. Visit his blog for some interesting examples and illustrations.
- Prof. dr. Odile Heynders is Professor of Comparative Literature and Head of the Department of Culture Studies at Tilburg University. She was a fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Sciences (NIAS), and published numerous books and articles on European literature and authorship.