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INST0023 Manuscript Studies

Aims to provide an understanding of the manuscript as object, the cultures in which manuscripts were created, and the curatorial requirements for their cataloguing and interpretation in the 21st century.

By the end of the module, students will have an overview of the history of the book in the manuscript era and the materials that make it up (paper, parchment, ink, etc.), some practical exerience of palaeography, and knowledge of the major techniques for research, including the use of digital resources.

Classes are a mix of lectures, seminars, and practical hands-on sessions, some of which take place at a range of libraries and museums. No prior knowledge of palaeography or manuscript culture is assumed, although one of the major aims of this redesigned module is that it should provide those with existing palaeographic skills with new knowledge in which to contextualise their skills, both as researchers and curators.

Scripts in Latin and Anglo-Saxon will be studied, alongside modern languages. If you have knowledge only of English, please do not worry: the assignment is structured in such a way that you will not be disadvantaged. The new module coordinator is aware that some students expressed discomfort with the amount of Latin in the previous incarnations of the module and keen that its newly-developed current iteration will be able to provide an entry-point to the field for those new to it, whilst offering the opportunity for those with existing skills to enhance them. The teaching and learning style and ethos are the same as those in Historical Bibliography, which can be seen as a "sister" to this module. 

N.B. In 2018-19 this module will be taught as an intensive in Term 3. From 2019-20, Manuscript Studies will be taught on Monday afternoons in Term 1 and Historical Bibliography will be taught on Monday afternoons in Term 2, providing students with an opportunity to engage with the book in the West in both manuscript and print, its creation, reception, description and curation.

The reading list and introductory video will be live at the start of Term 2, but in the meantime perhaps you might like to ease into the field with De Hamel's Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts as a commuter read, and this public engagement talk given a few years ago by the module coordinator at educational comedy night Ignite London. Class lectures have more academic content, but are hopefully equally engaging.

Assessment:  Assessment by coursework only.
Optional for: MA LIS, MA ARM, MA DH. This module is also available for short course students.
Taught by: 

Further information for students currently taking this module