Medieval Manuscript and Paleography Courses at Rare Book School

This summer Rare Book School is excited to offer four courses designed specifically to advance the research of scholars in medieval and renaissance studies.

Introduction to Paleography, 800–1500 introduces students to the book-based scripts and the text typologies of the western European Middle Ages and the Renaissance, from Caroline minuscule through early print. Taught by Consuelo Dutschke, Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at Columbia University, this course will provide students with the basic tools for working with medieval codices and enable them to read the texts and to recognize categories of script. This course will be taught in Charlottesville June 9–13. See the course website for a complete description.

During the same week, June 9-13, RBS will offer a course in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on The Medieval Manuscript in the 21st Century. Taught by Will Noel, Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Dot Porter, Curator of Digital Research Services at the Schoenberg Institute, this course guides students of both the digital humanities and manuscript studies through the concepts and realities of working with medieval manuscripts in the twenty-first century. By considering critical issues relating to using medieval manuscripts in a digital world, students will engage the idea of “digital surrogacy” and explore the implications of representing physical objects in digital forms. See the course website for a complete description.

Students interested in manuscript studies may also consider Introduction to Western Codicology, taught by Albert Derolez, Emeritus Professor at the Free Universities of Brussels and author of The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books from the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2006). This course surveys the development of the physical features of manuscript books. By teaching students to examine manuscript materials, structure, and layout, among other elements, this course goes beyond traditional research on the study of script and illumination and introduces students to alternate methods of uncovering information in a codex. To give students the widest possible exposure to a variety of manuscripts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the course will take a field trip to libraries in Washington, DC. This course will be taught in Charlottesville 16–20 June. See the course website for a complete description.

For students familiar with basic skills in paleography, codicology, and the history of the hand-produced book, RBS is offering Advanced Seminar: Medieval Manuscript Studies, taught by Barbara A. Shailor, Deputy Provost for the Arts at Yale University and former Director of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale. Students will spend the week analyzing and discussing fragments and codices at the Beinecke Library. In addition to transcribing difficult scripts, students will have the opportunity to attend workshops by Yale conservators on topics such as inks and pigments, parchment, paper, watermark identification, and collation. This course will be taught in New Haven, Connecticut during the week of July 28–August 1. See the course website for a complete description.

Rare Book School is currently receiving applications for these and all other courses. To apply, please visit please myRBS and login using your information from last year. For general information on the application process, visit the RBS Application & Admissions page.

Please write to if you have any questions about either course or the application process.

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