Medieval Manuscripts Seminar

The seminar covers current research into the intellectual history of book production in the Middle Ages, into the history of medieval texts and script and into manuscript culture more generally. The great value of the seminar, which was founded in the 1970s, is that it draws on a wide pool of expertise from the academic world, the British Library, and the commercial world of books. It is linked with the London Palaeography Teachers’ Group and so acts as the meeting place for many of those involved with the teaching of the London International Palaeography Summer School.

Please register for seminars via the link below. Once you have registered you will receive the Zoom meeting link.

Autumn Programme 2020-21

Upcoming seminars:

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Dr Stewart J Brookes, Lyell Fellow in Latin Palaeography, Bodleian Library

Dilts Fellow in Palaeography, Lincoln College

Computer-Assisted Palaeography: What? Why? Whither?

With many of us locked away at home and unable to spend time with our beloved manuscripts, the large-scale digitisation projects of recent years have taken on an unanticipated importance. Arguably, the current situation has sharpened our awareness of the limitations and strengths of encountering medieval manuscripts in the digital arena. With that in mind, this paper will explore a number of questions: what would we like to do beyond browsing with the “Turning the Pages”-style and IIIF viewers provided by repositories? How might letter-forms or iconographic motifs be catalogued, curated and compared to support evidence-based scholarship? How fine-grained should our descriptions be? And do Digital Humanities projects and Machine Learning change the scope or even the nature of our research questions?


Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Ainoa Castro Correa, University of Salamanca

The Secret Life of Writing: A Holistic Palaeography Project

Dr Castro has been recently awarded an ERC-funded project entitled "The Secret Life of Writing: People, Script and Ideas in the Iberian Peninsula (c. 900-1200)". In this seminar she will tell us about how this project came up to being, discussing the new and somehow strikingly holistic method upon which it builds, its aims and first results.


30 March Early Career Researcher double bill

Stephanie Azzarello, History of Art, University of Cambridge

Divine Riddles & Monastic Puzzles: Palaeography and the Dismembered Manuscript

During my PhD, I focused on reconstructing a now-dismembered series of illuminated choir books, produced in Venice in the early fifteenth-century. This series of manuscripts—made for the Camaldolese monastery of San Mattia di Murano—was lavishly illuminated and contained script and music notation. In this talk, I will present some of the intellectual tools that I used to ‘recreate’ the original liturgical order in which the excised images once existed. I will discuss how palaeography played an important role in this process.

Alison Ray, Carnegie Project Archivist (Medieval Manuscripts), Trinity College Dublin Library

The pecia system of the Paris university book trade and its users, 1250-1330

Paris was the leading centre of the university book trade in the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, and the study of wide-ranging written and visual evidence available in surviving pecia manuscripts demonstrates the major influence of Paris intellectual life on English scholars, preachers and illuminators. The textual content, decoration and user-added marginalia of university-produced manuscripts provides a unique insight into the workings of the English cultural community at Paris during this period.


Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Eyal Poleg, Queen Mary University of London

'more busines to fynd out what should be read, then to read it when it was founde out’: A Material History of the Bible in late medieval and early modern England.

Introducing the Book of Common Prayer in 1549, Thomas Cranmer sought to highlight the break with the medieval past. This paper will explore the long history of the Bible in England, from the rise of the single-volume, mass-produced Bibles of the mid-thirteenth century to the death of Edward VI in 1553.  The prism of materiality and use would enable us to question Reformation paradigms, tracing continuities, as well as transformations, in the history of the Bible across the later Middle Ages and early modernity. Some changes to layout and design, such as the introduction of chapter division, took centuries to be implemented. The paper will end with reassessing the methodologies needed for such analysis, advocating a new approach which would combine book and religious histories with scientific analysis of manuscripts and early printed books.

Seminar Schedule and Registration

Previous Seminar Programmes:


Professor Julia Crick (King's College London), Dr David Rundle (University of Kent)