Dr Anna Somfai (Central European University)
Half-day, from 10.00 to 13.00
Maximum: 15 students
Venue: Senate House

The course explores medieval Western philosophical manuscripts as a visual reflection of cognitive practices and considers the role manuscripts played in the creation and shaping of philosophical discourse. A manuscript was both the object which transmitted ancient and medieval philosophical texts and a physical and intellectual surface which facilitated reading, writing, thinking, and the exchange of ideas. The course looks by means of digital images at manuscripts from the 9th through the 15th centuries, examining the layers of textual and visual interpretation introduced by scribes, readers, and annotators and considering the various attitudes over time toward the use of central and marginal space. We look at aspects of the physical making of philosophical manuscripts then through case studies analyse selected folios of various texts and their diagrams and diagram variants. We ponder how reading texts in manuscript form brought, and still brings, additional dimensions to the study of philosophical texts.


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.