M-70. The Handwriting & Culture of Early Modern English Manuscripts

Heather Wolfe

This course provides an intensive introduction to handwriting in early modern England, with a particular emphasis on English secretary hand. Working from digital images, color photocopies, and manuscripts, participants will be trained in the accurate reading and transcription of secretary, italic, and mixed hands. Participants are requested to bring laptops if possible. We will also experiment with contemporary writing materials (quills, iron gall ink, and paper), learn the terminology for describing and comparing letterforms, decipher abbreviations, numbers, and dates, and discuss the important and evolving role of handwritten documents within a wider context of print, manuscript, and oral cultures. By the end of the week, each participant will create a “mini-edition” of a manuscript.

This course is intended for anyone who works with English manuscripts from the Tudor and Stuart periods. Students should plan to bring a laptop with them to class, if possible, or let RBS staff know in advance so that a laptop can be made available.

Course History

2013–
Heather Wolfe teaches this course, as "The Handwriting & Culture of Early Modern English Manuscripts."
2010–2011
Heather Wolfe teaches this course, as "English Paleography, 1500–1750."

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
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Faculty

Heather Wolfe

Heather Wolfe

Heather Wolfe is Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Author of numerous articles on early modern manuscripts, she has edited The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary (2007), The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608: A Facsimile Edition of Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.232 (2007), and Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland: Life and Letters (2001). She is currently thinking about intersections between print and manuscript, the price and quality of writing paper, and how we can recover the way early modern people filed their papers.

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