M-20. Seminar in Western Codicology

M. Michèle Mulchahey

Course Length: 30 hours
Course Week: 28 July–2 August 2024
Format: in person, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA
Fee: $1,395

The principles, bibliography, and methodology of the analysis and description of Western medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. The course includes a survey of the development of the physical features of manuscript books and practical work by the students on particular points. Applicants must have considerable background in the historical humanities, and a good basic knowledge of Latin and Latin paleography is needed.

Traditional research on manuscripts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance is based principally on the study of script and illumination. Without neglecting these important aspects, this course will show that there are other—and sometimes more conclusive—means to approach the codex and to uncover the information it conveys. The course will deal with manuscript materials, structure, layout, script, and decoration, showing how to investigate and describe these features.

The course will consist of both lecture and work sessions. The first will be based on a discussion of PowerPoint slides, photographs, and the specialized literature. During work sessions, students will view manuscript fragments and complete manuscripts in the possession of Rare Book School and UVA libraries, and perform tasks based on these and on printed catalogs of manuscripts.

In their personal statements, applicants are required to describe their degree of training in Latin and paleography.

Course History

M. Michèle Mulchahey teaches this course, as "Seminar in Western Codicology."
Albert Derolez teaches this course, as "Introduction to Western Codicology."
Albert Derolez teaches this course, as "Introduction to Codicology."
Albert Derolez teaches this course, as "Aims and Methods of Codicological Research."
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Course Resources

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M. Michèle Mulchahey

M. Michèle Mulchahey

M. Michèle Mulchahey currently holds the Leonard E. Boyle Chair in Manuscript Studies at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, and is Director of PIMS’s Diploma Programme in Manuscript Studies, which was inaugurated at the American Academy in Rome in 2011. Mulchahey is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and of Harvard’s Villa I Tatti in Florence. In her research, she has made a study of the medieval Dominican order, its schools, and the techniques used by the friars to communicate their learning. She has received research grants from agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Carnegie Trust in the U.K. for her work. Her book “First the bow is bent in study…” Dominican Education Before 1350 has become a touchstone in the field. Her current projects include a study of Dante’s teacher Remigio de’ Girolami, as revealed through some newly discovered manuscript survivals, and another on Jacopo Passavanti, the charismatic Dominican preacher at Santa Maria Novella in Florence, who also commissioned some of the most famous artwork produced for the convent.

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