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.

13 October 2020

Laura Cleaver, Senior Lecturer in Medieval Manuscripts, Institute of English Studies

Wilfrid Voynich's dealings in manuscripts (c. 1898-1930) and why they matter (watch this seminar online)

At the peak of his business, trading in rare books and manuscripts, Wilfrid Voynich's letterhead listed offices in London, Paris, Florence and New York. The resulting documentation of his purchases and sales of manuscripts is now widely scattered, but the Grolier Club in New York houses the archives from his American offices. From this archive and his catalogues, it is possible to reconstruct Voynich's dealings in medieval manuscripts, chart the movement of manuscripts between London and New York, and analyse the place of manuscripts in both his broader business and his clients' collecting patterns. This evidence challenges the dominant narrative of America as the great recipient of manuscripts in this period and instead suggests a more nuanced history of interest in medieval manuscripts in the first half of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Lisa Fagin Davis (Medieval Academy of America) and Christoph Flueler (University of Fribourg, Director, Fragmentarium project)

Fragmentology: what, why and where next?

This session brings together two leading experts in the field of fragment studies. Prof Davis will focus on the historical context of manuscript fragments, both chronological (i.e. the timeline for binding fragments vs. initial cuttings vs. leaf sets) and geographical (the development of the corpus of fragments in Europe vs. North America). Prof Flueler will ask `part of what?’ How do we work with fragments? How do descriptions of manuscripts differ from descriptions of fragments? What is the subject and working methods of fragmentology? What are the limits of this new discipline? This will be followed by a roundtable discussion allowing you to provide your insights.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Dr Caitríona Ó Dochartaigh (Department of Early and Medieval Irish, University College Cork)

The Relationship between the Manuscripts of the ‘Irish Liber Hymnorum

The title Liber Hymnorum refers in an Irish context to a collection of hymns in Latin and Irish, as well as much ancilliary material, preserved in two extant manuscripts (Trinity College Dublin 1441 and University College Dublin OFM A2) It is doubtful whether the Liber Hymnorum codices were intended for regular liturgical celebration, since each hymn is preceded by a preface detailing the supposed place, time and cause of its composition as well as the author. Certain elements of the provenance and transmission of the manuscripts can only be sketched and the relationship between the two surviving witnesses is only partially understood. It is clear, however, that the codices are not reproductions of the same exemplar but the precise relationship between these two important sources of medieval Irish hymnody merits further investigation. 

Seminar Schedule and Registration

Previous Seminar Programmes:


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