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 librarian will have to take care of a manuscript or fragment during his or her career. Using a combination of the resources in UCLA’s Special Collections and several online resources, this course will give an overview of the historical production of manuscripts, introducing students the variety of manuscripts that survive in greatest numbers—Bibles and biblical commentaries, liturgical books, lay prayerbooks and historical documents. The focus of the class will then be on the lay prayerbooks, or Book of Hours—called the “bestseller of the Middle Ages.” Class sessions will include hands-on training in identifying the parts of a Book of Hours, and working with detached leaves from different countries and time periods. By the end of the class students should be able to date, localize and identify the text of detached manuscript leaves.

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


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