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Medieval Paleography HarvardX Storyboard

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Dan Smail

on 9 December 2014

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Transcript of Medieval Paleography HarvardX Storyboard

Introduction: A Lot of Books
General Introduction (ca 3-7 minutes)

1. The great "middle period" of human history generated enormous quantities of written material in the form of books and other documents. China, South Asia, the Islamic world, Egypt, Meso-America, Greece, Rome. Quantities of books. Very little of this has survived. Reasons for this.

2. Medieval Europe as a partial exception. Longevity of the church as an archiving institution. Parchment as a durable material. Harder to explain the survival of documents from the later middle ages. Governmentality. Symbolism of archives among the Italian city states. Whatever the situation, massive quantities. 8000 Carolingian manuscripts. [
Provide other figures.

3. Exploding book production in high and later middles ages. True for books as conventionally understood, such as mass-produced bibles. Romances and histories. New markets. Jean Gerson and authorship. Also true for book-like entities, namely, the register material generated by courts of law, chanceries, landlords. Inquests, bishops' registers.

4. Later middle ages, the paper revolution, huge increase in the quantity of surviving material. Figures. See Bresc. Paper hardly ever used for books before the 14th century and only became common in the 15th century. The famous library of Charles V of France, 1377, inventory, 2.000 books, only one on paper. Thus
Reading Medieval Hands
1. Medieval handwriting comes in many forms, just like today. [
5-10 images from Harvard collections, illustrating different handwriting.]
Paleography; the science of handwriting. Important for reading medieval documents.

2. Oddly enough, not all the books and documents from the middle ages need to be read per se. Gospels; psalters; church fathers; law texts. Scholars already know what these books have in them. This doesn't mean they are not worthy of study: quite the contrary. The study of copying errors. Quantity of surviving MSS as index of popularity. Who is reading what and when. Art program. Marginalia.

3. Within the general field of paleography, two emphases.
Scientific Paleography
Manuscripts sometimes have no identifying marks. Paleography and other features of a text can be used to determine an approximate date, a likely author, and the region of production.

Provide examples from Houghton Library.
] -- examples from scroll exhibit (universal chronicles, treated document, etc.)
Pragmatic Paleography
1. Many kinds of documents need to be read. Legal acts. Treatises. Histories. Also glosses and marginalia. Charters. Inscriptions. Speech bubbles.

Provide examples of all of these kinds of documents using exemplars from the Houghton Library, Harvard Law School, Baker, and Harvard Art Museums. -- Dan & Bill Stoneman (houghton)
Meet the Scribes
1. The exercises that follow provide a sampling of some of the many types of handwriting available from medieval Europe. The hands range from Carolingian minuscule to late medieval cursives used by public notaries. [
Provide images of several examples.

2. You can follow the exercises in chronological order, or navigate your own way. Each module treats a particular kind of document, beginning with an introduction to the document and how it was made. The modules will cover all the letters, as well as common abbreviations, capital letters, numbers and ancillary markings. Quizzes and tests will allow you to measure your progress.

3. Note: For all intents and purposes, some knowledge of Latin is required.

4. You may wish to visit the Resources page from time to time.
Resources for Reading the Medieval Book
1. Other paleography websites.
2. Abbreviations.
3. Dictionaries, including DuCange and Whitaker's Words
Charlie Donahue? (chancery, charter)
Rowan Dorin?
Smail: Legal Documents of the Later Middle Ages
Michael McCormick? Shane Bobrycki?
Tom Kelly? (Beneventan and ?Visigothic)
Legal Documents of the Later Middle Ages

Introduction to the place. Brief history of the city, and a discussion of the kinds of documents found in

Show some pictures of the archives. Still shots of the inside of the archives.
Register as book. Codicological issues. Binding, including threads visible in the gutter of the document. Watermarks. Damage (insects, water). Post-medieval additions. Foldings to indicate margins. examples by Patrick
The Letters
Editing Marks
Capital letters and
Here we arrive at the heart of the paleographical exercise. A voiceover will explain some of the features of the "a" in a number of examples drawn from a pool of 5-10 documents of varying difficulty. Here, just three examples of the letter "a" are provided, from the middle, end, and beginnings of words. The goal is to expose the student to many different types of "a." When students are ready, they will take the "a-quiz." --
groupings, abbreviations (& letters they may be confused with; per pro, prae; q's together; Patrick & Dan will go over documents & propose letter groupings)]
Ready to take the "a" quiz?
Beverly Kienzle and Timothy Baker? (book hands; large unit w/multiple "type-specimens" or smaller units?)(monastic hands 6th-9th c; pre-/post-scholastic French hands)
Find 5 instances of the letter "a" in these three documents, from easy to hard, and circle them .

pre, prae, pro
ibus, ter
elisions/crossings out, stet, marginal notes, blank spaces, dotted i's, interlines, renvois/cross-referencing device, page cancelations, act cancelations
he program will grade the a-quiz by showing how many circles were approximately right, and how many instances of the letter "a" the student missed.
Final Exam
Congratulations! You have completed basic training in the art of reading legal documents from the later Middle Ages. Each locale has particularities, of course, but if you can read the documents from late medieval Marseille you will be able to move from one southern European jurisdiction to another without much difficulty. Note that the vernacular handwriting is very different; if you need to read collections such as the letters of the famous "merchant of Prato" or the Medici family records, be sure to look into module X.
Students who have achieved reasonable proficiency will be invited to join a crowd-sourcing project for the transcription of legal documents from the later middle ages.
This presentation offers a storyboard that lays out the structure of a HarvardX module dedicated to reading medieval handwriting.

The module will consist of two major elements. The first will be a short and general introduction to medieval handwriting, drawing heavily on the Ductus and other existing resources, and featuring images of books and hands from Harvard's collections. The second element will consist of a series of mini-modules, each created by a member of Harvard's faculty, and each dedicated to a different class of document.

This presentation will sketch out a single mini-module designed to help students read the handwriting characteristic of legal documents from the city of Marseille in the later middle ages. Harvard faculty and graduate students will be recruited to design the other mini-modules following a template, with variations appropriate to the instructor's needs.

Suggested lecture/course script is in normal font. [
Directions for module creators are in brackets and italicized.
The History of the Book:
A HarvardX course

Paleography Module

The a-quiz
When the mini-module "Legal Documents of the Later Middle Ages" is done, students can return to the navigation map and choose another mini-module.

Faculty who design each of these modules will follow a simple template, such as the template laid out in this presentation, and will make variations on it as appropriate to their needs.

The basic template is visible in the following slide.

Some of the work can be done by RAs working with faculty; the students should be able to help arrange for the scanning of relevant documents and can help select pages and identify letters.

The Place
The final exam will have the pattern similar to that of the letter quizzes. Students will be presented with three documents they have not seen before--easy, medium, and hard--except this time they will have to transcribe the entirety of each document. The documents should be chosen so as to include some special marks, e.g. elisions and renvois.
This element will serve as a general introduction to the paleography module. It's not necessary to reinvent the wheel here; on campus, professors Kienzle, McCormick, and Tarrant already cover similar material, and a great deal is also available in standard paleography resources.
This phase of the introduction is designed to set up the distinction between two paleographic approaches. The first of these, a more scientific approach, uses clues embedded in handwriting as devices for determining the author, date, or region of production of a given manuscript. The second is pragmatic, and emphasizes the training one needs to read words. This particular module is going to focus on pragmatic paleography; scientific paleography constitutes a module that could be developed in the future.
For the purposes of this storyboard, I have sketched out the mini-module dedicated to legal documents from later medieval Marseille.

The following screen lays out a template that could be used for all the mini-modules.

All the mini-modules should be based on a single hand or a small family of hands from a relatively restricted time and place.
The exercises continue with b, c, d, etc., in an order to be determined (e.g. it might make sense to group similar letters. In each case, module creators select letters from the beginning, middle, and end of words, and provide multiple examples of the many different forms. Each letter is then followed by a quiz. We would like to include footage from a classroom setting showing a teacher-student discussion of particularly tricky letters.
The final major element covers the various kinds of editing or diacritical marks that the scribe or notary habitually makes; the relevant marks will vary tremendously from one mini-module to the next.
We will compile a page of resources from existing websites and books.
] -- Patrick working on this; question of persistent URLs
The following map constitutes a device that will allow students to navigate the mini-modules in any order they choose. A "slider" or a similar device at the bottom of the map will allow students to select examples from early, high, and later medieval documents. As the student slides the slider from left to right, the icons for the early medieval mini-modules will fade, being replaced by icons for the high and then the later medieval mini-modules.
(ca 3-7 minutes)
(ca 3-7 minutes)
(ca 3-7 minutes)
(ca 3-7 minutes)

Dulcia p. 17
Dulcia p. 18
Dulcia p. 19
Dulcia p. 20
Dulcia p.21
Dulcia p. 22
Dulcia p. 23
Dulcia p. 24
Dulcia p. 25
Letter Groupings
1. h, k, l, f, b, d
2. j, g, y
3. p, pre, pro, par, per
4. q, que, quod, etc., con, and quon
5. i, nm, m, u, v
6. a, r, e o, x
7. c, t
8. s, z

Full transcript