Writing and reading medieval manuscripts: folio layouts in context

Dr Anna Somfai (Central European University)
Full day - from 10.00 to 17.00
Maximum: 12 students
Venue: Senate House

The course explores, covering the period from the 6th to the 15th centuries, what a close look at folio layouts of manuscripts can reveal about medieval writing and reading practices and the cognitive processes behind the design. We look at the production of the layout (ruling, using a hierarchy of scripts, planning the text-image spatial relationship, planting bookmarks, etc.) and the consecutive engagement with the content (the annotator-reader's textual and visual glosses, intellectual and physical additions and cut-outs). The layout reflects the physical and intellectual production and use of the manuscripts and the assumptions as to how to best transmit a specific body of knowledge. Thus the design is directly relevant to the transmission of ideas and to medieval teaching and learning practices. Participants of the course are invited to create and discuss their own design of a folio in order to understand the intricacies of medieval layout design. Original manuscript folios will be studied in class.

Bibliography

Mise en page et mise en texte du livre manuscrit, ed. Henri-Jean Martine, Jean Vezin, Paris 1990
Murdoch, John E., Album of Science. Antiquity and the Middle Ages, New York 1984
Reading Medieval Images. The Art Historian and the Object, ed. Elizabeth Sears, Thelma K. Thomas, Michigan 2002
Sherman, Claire Richter, Imaging Aristotle. Verbal and Visual Representations in Fourteenth-Century France, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford, 1995