Dr Irene Ceccherini (University of Oxford) and Dr Laura Nuvoloni
Full-day, from 10.00 to 17.00
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

The course aims to provide an in-depth analysis of book and documentary scripts employed in Italy from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance (1200-1600), that is from the rise of the vernacular as a written language to the diffusion of print. The Italian varieties of Gothic script (littera textualis) will be examined, as well as Gothic cursive script and its specialisations (cancelleresca and mercantesca), the transferral of documentary scripts into books (bastarde), and the origin and development of Humanistic script, both formal (littera antiqua) and informal (corsiva all’antica). The course will also focus on three aspects of the Italian history of the handwriting and book production: 1) scripts and books in vernacular; 2) autographs of Italian scholars; 3) the Humanistic book. Practical exercises and an up-to-date bibliography will consolidate the understanding of the issues discussed.

The course is open to anyone interested in manuscript production and literacy in medieval Italy. No previous palaeographical experience is required, but a basic knowledge of Latin and Italian would be useful to benefit from the course in full.


Bernard Bischoff, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, transl. Dáihbí O’Cróinín and David Ganz. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Bernard Bischoff, Paleografia latina : antichità e medioevo, ed. italiana a cura di Gilda P. Mantovani e Stefano Zamponi. Padova: Antenore, 1992, with enlarged chapter on abbreviations and punctuation on pp. 218-46.

Albinia C. de la Mare, The Handwriting of Italian Humanists, I-1: Francesco Petrarca, Giovanni Boccaccio, Coluccio Salutati, Niccolò Niccoli, Poggio Bracciolini, Bartolomeo Aragazzi of Montepulciano, Sozomeno da Pistoia, Giorgio Antonio Vespucci. Oxford: printed at the University Press for the Association internationale de bibliophilie, 1973.

Albert Derolez, Codicologie des manuscrits en écriture humanistique sur parchemin, 2 vols.  Turnhout: Brepols, 1984 (Bibliologia: Elementa ad Librorum Studia Pertinentia, 6-7).

Albert Derolez, Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books: From the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.