10 April | 9am-4pm
Anna Somfai, Central European University, Budapest and Vienna

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The course explores medieval Western philosophical and scientific manuscripts produced over the span of the 9th to 15th centuries. It considers the role manuscripts played in the creation and shaping of the philosophical and scientific discourse. A manuscript is both the object which transmitted ancient and medieval texts and a physical and intellectual surface which facilitated reading, writing, thinking, and the exchange of ideas. The course examines by means of digital images the layers of textual and visual interpretation produced by scribes, readers, and annotators and considers the various interpretative attitudes that developed and interacted over time. We shall look at the relevant aspects of the production of manuscripts then analyse the diverse visual forms in which texts and diagrams appear in manuscripts copied at various times and within different scholarly milieus. We ponder how reading texts in manuscript form brought, and still brings, additional dimensions to the study of philosophical and scientific texts. The course is online using Zoom, and will be fully interactive.

Courses fees are £100 (standard) and £75 (student).


Michael Camille, 'Illustrations in Harley MS 3487 and the Perception of Aristotle's Libri Naturales in Thirteenth-Century England', in England in the Thirteenth Century: Proceedings of the 1984 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. by W.M. Ormrod, Woodbridge 1985, pp. 31-44.

Murdoch, John E., Album of Science. Antiquity and the Middle Ages, New York 1984.

Sherman, Claire Richter, Imaging Aristotle. Verbal and Visual Representations in Fourteenth-Century France, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford, 1995.

Anna Somfai, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest and Vienna

My main fields of teaching and research include medieval manuscript studies and ancient and medieval philosophy and science. Within manuscript studies I teach codicology, textual criticism, Latin book hand palaeography, and script development. I study the cognitive aspects of the medieval manuscript folio layout, connected with my research into visual thinking. I examine the nature and role of diagrams and other visual elements and the visualising of philosophical and scientific concepts in medieval manuscripts. I have taught at and organised Latin and Greek Codicology and Palaeography Summer Schools.