Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

Current faculty: Melissa Conway

Description: Almost 500 institutions in North America—including many public libraries—have pre-1600 manuscripts in their holdings. The chances are thus high that any one dealing with rare materials will be responsible for at least one manuscript or fragment during his or her career. This class has been organized to provide the basic skills for identifying and making accessible these unique and precious remnants of medieval art. Using the resources in UCLA’s Special Collections, field trips to the Huntington Library and/or Getty Museum, and several online resources, this course will provide an overview of the historical production of manuscripts, and an introduction to the genres of manuscripts—Bibles and biblical commentaries, liturgical books, lay prayerbooks and historical documents. A particular emphasis of the class will be Books of Hours or Horae. Called the “bestseller of the Middle Ages,” they constitute the genre of manuscript that survives in the greatest number. There will be training in identifying the parts of a Book of Hours, working with (digital copies) of detached leaves from different regions and time periods. By the end of the class students will be familiar with the myriad resources used in dating, localizing and identifying the text of detached manuscript leaves. On the last day, each student will also be given a (digital) manuscript leaf to describe, employing the skills acquired in the class. (Students are also welcome—indeed encouraged– to bring digital images of manuscripts from their own institutions to share with the class.)

Required text: Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies. Cornell University Press, 2007.

Download Syllabus here: Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts Syllabus 2018

Years taught: 2013 (with Lisa Fagin-Davis), 2015, 2017


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