Call for Papers – Un/making mistakes in Medieval manuscripts

48th International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo [MI], Western Michigan University). – Session Un/making mistakes in Medieval manuscripts (organized by B. M. Eggert, Humboldt University, Berlin – Ch. Schott, Erskine College, South Carolina). – Call for papers (until 25.VIII.2012).

While scholars of medieval manuscripts usually focus either on the craftsmanship of the codex or on how the copy work affects the text, the purpose of this session is to shed light on errors, mistakes and obscurities in handwritten texts – and what happens when they are noticed. Scribes often made mistakes when taking dictation or copying a text, which manifest themselves in dittography or omission of words as a result of eyeskip, etc. Likewise, the physical supports themselves could be faulty, containing holes or irregular edges that forced scribes to adjust or alter their copying activities to accommodate their materials. Sometimes it remains obscure whether a textual phenomenon was regarded an error or mistake, for example when illuminators of manuscripts ignored written instructions concerning iconography or colours. Errors, mistakes and obscurities could be handled in different ways: they could be corrected openly, hushed up with more or less skill, marked with a comment – or remain as they were. Each decision marks a distinct understanding of whether correctness of a text was regarded as the most important aspect of a manuscript – or whether a clean page and uninterrupted textual surface was deemed more valuable.

By inviting paper proposals from both scholars of text as well as scholars of images, this session aims to explore the nature of errors, mistakes and obscurities in medieval manuscripts as well as the “corrections” thereof to gain insight into the contemporary assumptions about what a text should look like.

Please send your abstract, along with a short cv and the paper proposal form ( to B. M. Eggert ( and Ch. Schott (

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