CULTIVATE MSS Project: Cultural Values and the International Trade in Medieval European Manuscripts, c. 1900-1945

The CULTIVATE MSS project (2019-2024), funded by the European Research Council, aims to analyse the significance of the trade in medieval manuscripts for the development of ideas about the nature and value of European culture between 1900 and 1945. It will assess the roles of collectors, scholars and dealers in the formation of collections of medieval manuscripts, and the impact of this on scholarship, comparing the English-speaking world, France and Germany. Through analysis of published and unpublished accounts of manuscripts, together with price data, it will reconstruct the values projected onto books. It will then contextualise these values within the history of the early twentieth century, assessing the impact of two world wars and other political and economic shifts on the trade in books and attitudes to manuscripts as objects of national significance.

The project team will comprise the PI, four post-doctoral researchers and two PhD students. The post-doctoral researchers will focus on the trade in manuscripts in North America, France and Germany, and the economic data generated by the sales of medieval books. The PhD students will examine the roles of women and specialist clubs and societies in shaping the development of the manuscript trade in the early twentieth century.

The project is working with The Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts [] at the University of Pennsylvania. The Institute of English Studies will host a workshop on using the Schoenberg Database and researching manuscript provenance on the 14th January 2020. More information about the workshop will be available soon.

Principal Investigator (PI)

Dr Laura Cleaver