M-10. Introduction to Paleography, 800–1500

Lisa Fagin Davis

“This course was very useful and packed with information.” — 2016 student

Course Length: 30 hours
Course Week: 23–28 July 2023
Format: in person, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA
Fee: $1,395

This course provides an introduction to Latinate scripts of the western European Middle Ages and the Renaissance from 700 to 1500, from pre-Caroline through Humanistic scripts. The course has three goals: literacy (learning to read different scripts and expand abbreviations); attribution (learning to use different script characteristics to determine an approximate date and place of origin); and description (learning to identify the hands of different individuals within a particular codex or group of related codices). The course will also include an introduction to codicology and bibliographic description of medieval manuscripts and fragments. While we will have the opportunity to work with manuscripts and fragments from UVA collections, most of the specimens for in-class use and homework assignments will be digital, so students should bring their own laptops or tablets.

Latin fluency is not a pre-requisite for the class, but it is helpful to have had at least some exposure to Latin. In their personal statement, applicants should describe the degree of their present knowledge of Latin and their reasons for wishing to take this course.

Course History

Lisa Fagin Davis teaches this course.
Consuelo Dutschke teaches this course.
Albert Derolez teaches a precursor course, "Introduction to Latin Paleography."

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
  • Evaluations for this course:

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Lisa Fagin Davis

Lisa Fagin Davis

Lisa Fagin Davis received her Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Yale University in 1993. She is a paleographer, codicologist, and bibliographer with a particular interest in pre-1600 manuscript fragments and collections in North America. She has taught Latin Paleography at Yale University and regularly teaches Manuscript Studies at the Simmons University School of Library and Information Science. She has served as the supervisor or principal investigator for several digital reconstructions of dismembered manuscripts using shared-canvas viewers and IIIF-compliant images. Her publications include the Catalogue of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, Vol. IV (with R. G. Babcock and P. Rusche, Tempe, 2004); The Gottschalk Antiphonary (Cambridge University Press, 2000); numerous articles in the fields of manuscript studies and codicology; and the monograph La Chronique Anonyme Universelle: Reading and Writing History in Fifteenth-Century France (a translation, critical edition, and detailed study of a fifteenth-century French world chronicle) (Brepols Publishers, 2015). With Melissa Conway, Davis is co-author of the Directory of Pre-1600 Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, published online by the Bibliographical Society of America. She has served as Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America since 2013 and was elected to the Comité international de paléographie latine in 2019.

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