Rachel Fulton
Department of History
The University of Chicago

Autumn 2003



The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the use and interpretation of manuscripts for the study of Europe in the Middle Ages.  Topics will be chosen by the participants in the seminar on the basis of the materials available at the University of Chicago in Regenstein Library’s Department of Special Collections.  Potential topics may include (but are by no means limited to) lay piety and Books of Hours, the study of the Fathers in the later Middle Ages, miracles of the Virgin Mary, economic and manorial life in late medieval England, late medieval English law, the lore of gemstones, and commentaries on Aristotle.  Students should have sufficient language skills to be able to work with texts in the original, although topics are also welcome in the visual and performing arts.  Course readings will deal with the theoretical and methodological implications of working with materials from a manuscript culture.


Required Books


Barbara Shailor, The Medieval Book: Illustrated from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991) [Z6621.Y23B44 1991, Special Collection, MSS Search Room]

M.T. Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, England 1066-1307, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993) [DA176.C540 1993]

Mary Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) [BF371.C3250 1990]

Andrew Taylor, Textual Situations: Three Medieval Manuscripts and their Readers (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002) [Z106.5.G7 T39 2002]

Wesley A. Kort, “Take, Read”: Scripture, Textuality and Cultural Practice (University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996) [BS490.K678 1996]

Leonard E. Boyle, Medieval Latin Paleography: A Bibliographical Introduction (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984) [Z106.B680 1984]


Course Requirements

The principal requirement for this course is to produce a proposal for a study of a manuscript that would provide the basis for a full-length seminar paper.  Along the way, students will be asked to prepare a number of reports on the genre, contents, and potentials for analysis of that manuscript.  These reports will be presented in class and the presentations and class discussion will constitute 25% of the final grade.  The reports themselves will constitute 35% of the final grade, with the proposal constituting the remaining 40%.  All of these percentages are approximate weightings and may be adjusted depending on the final proposal.


Reading and Research Assignments


October 2  Introduction


October 9  The Manuscripts

Shailor, The Medieval Book


Assignment 1: Choose a manuscript to work on from the collection in Regenstein Library.


October 16  Typology of sources

Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, pp. 1-184


Assignment 2: Report on the typology of the sources contained in your manuscript using the Typologie des sources du moyen âge occidental (Turnhout: Brepols, 1972-2001).


October 23  How to read a medieval book

M.B. Parkes, “Reading, Copying, and Interpreting a Text in the Early Middle Ages,” in A History of Reading in the West, eds. Guglielmo Cavallo and Roger Chartier, trans. by Lydia G. Cochrane (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), pp. 90-102, 378-84 [Z1003.3.E85 S7613 1999]

Jacqueline Hamesse, “The Scholastic Model of Reading,” in A History of Reading, eds. Cavallo and Chartier, pp. 103-119, 384-90

Paul Saenger, “Reading in the Later Middle Ages,” in A History of Reading, eds. Cavllo and Chartier, pp. 120-48, 390-404

Paul Saenger, “Silent Reading: Its Impact on Late Medieval Script and Society,” Viator 13 (1982): 367-414 [CB351.A1V62]

James J. John, “Latin Paleography,” in Medieval Studies: An Introduction, ed. James M. Powell, 2nd ed. (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1992), pp. 3-81 [D116.M40 1992]

Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, pp. 185-293


Assignment 3: Description of your manuscript and how its physical presentation may have affected the way in which it was read.


October 30  How to use a medieval book

Carruthers, Book of Memory, pp. 156-257

John Dagenais, “That Bothersome Residue: Toward a Theory of the Physical Text,” in Vox Intexta: Orality and Textuality in the Middle Ages, eds. A.N. Doane and Carol Braun Pasternak (Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), pp. 246-59 [PN671.V690 1991]

Taylor, Textual Situations, pp. 1-25

Clanchy, From Memory to Written Record, pp. 294-334


Assignment 4: Bibliography on your manuscript, the texts it contains, and other manuscripts of its type, i.e. on the context for understanding your manuscript.


November 6  Who used medieval books?

Judith Oliver, “Worship of the Word: Some Gothic Nonnenbücher in their Devotional Context,” in Women and the Book: Assessing the Visual Evidence, eds. Lesley Smith and Jane H.M. Taylor (Toronto: University of Toronto Press; and London: The British Library, 1997), pp. 106-122 [PN682.W6W66 1997]

Richard Gameson, “The Gospels of Margaret of Scotland and the Literacy of an Eleventh-Century Queen,” in Women and the Book, eds. Smith and Taylor, pp. 149-71

Alison Beach, “Collaboration and Claustration Between the Sexes in a Twelfth-Century Scriptorium,” in Monks, Nuns, Saints and Outcasts: Religion in Medieval Society, eds. Sharon Farmer and Barbara Rosenwein (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), pp. 57-75 [BR252 .M575 2000]

Lawrence G. Duggan, “Was art really the ‘book of the illiterate’?”, Word and Image 5.3 (July-September 1989): 227-51

Taylor, Textual Situations, pp. 26-75


Assignment 5: Analysis of the (probable) audience of your manuscript: who had it made, who owned it, who read it.


November 13  NO CLASS


November 20  How to think (about) a medieval book

Morrison, History as a Visual Art, pp. xiii-xxiv, 20-135

Jeffrey Hamburger, “The Visual and the Visionary: The Image in Late Medieval Monastic Devotions,” in The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany (New York: Zone Books, 1998), pp. 111-48, 502-10 [NK1653.G4 H36 1998]

Eric Jaeger, “Book of the Heart: Reading and Writing the Medieval Subject,” Speculum 71.1 (January 1996): 1-26 [JSTOR]

Taylor, Textual Situations, pp. 197-208


Assignment 6: Preliminary analysis of your manuscript: what does the manuscript you are studying tell us about medieval culture?




December 4  Why to read a medieval book

Kort, “Take, Read”

Siegfried Wenzel, “Reflections on (New) Philology,” Speculum 65.1 (January 1990): 11-18 [JSTOR]

Gabrielle M. Spiegel, “History, Historicism, and the Social Logic of the Text,” Speculum 65.1 (January 1990): 59-86 [JSTOR]

Lee W. Patterson, “On the Margin: Postmodernism, Ironic History and Medieval Studies,” Speculum 65.1 (January 1990): 87-108 [JSTOR]


Assignment 7: Proposal for seminar paper based on your study of your manuscript.


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