H-20. The Book in the Manuscript Era

Will Noel

An introduction to the MS book in the West that covers the period from late antiquity to the beginning of the c16, using the manuscript resources of the Walters Art Museum. Topics include: the book form; its materials and construction; the writing and decorating of books; different types of books: biblical, theological, historical, poetic, legal, classical, liturgical and devotional; the histories of books; the manuscript book in the digital age. This is the first course in a three-part sequence that includes The Printed Book in the West to 1800 (H-30) and The Printed Book in the West since 1800 (H-40).

This course is intended for those who seek a general overview of the MS book in Europe. The course is aimed at beginners, but the instructor will assume that students have a general knowledge of European history during the period covered. Some knowledge of Latin or a modern foreign language would be useful, but not necessary.

In their personal statement, applicants should describe the nature of their developing interest in the history of the book and (if relevant) explain briefly the causes of this interest and the purposes to which they propose to put the knowledge gained from the course.

Course History

Will Noel teaches this course.
Barbara A. Shailor teaches this course several times during this period.
Roger S. Wieck teaches this course.

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

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Will Noel

Will Noel

Will Noel is the Director of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, before which he worked at The Walters Art Museum as Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books. Among his books are The Harley Psalter (1995), The Oxford Bible Pictures (2005), and The Archimedes Codex (2007). An advocate for open manuscript data, during his tenure the Walters began to release full digital surrogates of its illuminated medieval manuscripts under a creative commons license. Will was a 2012 TED speaker, and in 2013 was honored as a White House Open Science Champion for Change.

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