Scientific and Secular Manuscripts
Description: While biblical, liturgical, and devotional manuscripts survive in the greatest number, religious texts tell only one part of the vibrant intellectual history of the Middle Ages in Europe. This course will focus upon the varieties of scientific and secular manuscripts, among which are medical, astronomical, and mathematical texts; bestiaries and natural histories; herbals and agricultural manuals; itineraries, chronicles, romances, and collections of poetry. Usually illustrated and often lavishly illuminated, these manuscripts formed the minds of the Middle Ages for several centuries. Using a combination of the resources in UCLA’s Special Collections, online sources, and field trips to UCLA Special Collections, UCLA Biomedical Library, and the Getty Museum, this course will provide an overview of these too-often overlooked aspects of the history, production, distribution, and survival of scientific and secular manuscripts. By the end of the class, students will be familiar with important examples in each genre, and the range of resources for continuing their deeper study and appreciation of the field. The class will culminate with student presentations on one of the manuscripts in the UCLA collection.
Years Taught: 2017, 2019