Paul Needham & William Noel

H-25 c15 Books in Manuscript and Print

Baltimore: 14-18 August 2006


1)   How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: The list should be edited to correct an error. In the sentence, “Please try to read...,” it suggests ‘I.4' -- but there are only ‘I.1, I.2, and I.3.' Otherwise, the readings were generally useful. The overview of German bibliography was the most interesting in PN’s review of ISTC. We really did not use the outline in CD-Rom database. 2: Extremely useful as a foundation for class teaching and discussions. 3: They were useful background. I wish I had read them years ago. 4: I think essential. 5: They often seemed only somewhat relevant: for example, we read many pages about the ISTC, yet it was never mentioned in class. And so forth with other readings. 6: None of the material from the pre-course readings was covered in depth in the class. Consequently, while it was helpful to have done the readings, it wasn’t critical. Some familiarity with descriptive bibliography and paleography seemed much more useful. 7: Useful and interesting.


2)   Were the course syllabus and other materials distributed in class useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?

1: No syllabus -- that is still something that would help, at least as a means of keeping our (very useful) photocopied materials in order. Perhaps the teaching assistant could record topics on the fly on a daily basis to produce such a document? 2: Yes, definitely. It would also be useful to issue a list of further readings at the end of the class, or at least a bibliographical guide of some kind. 3: We did not have a syllabus. It was great to receive color photocopies of books we examined. 4: Yes, and when home. 5: They were very useful, and PN and WN did a good job of encouraging us to keep them organized and annotated in a manner that will be useful for future use. 6: The photocopies will be very useful if I can keep them all straight. A syllabus or even just a broad course outline would have been helpful. 7: Would have appreciated a bibliography, and also more orderly distribution of handouts. 8: Handouts will be very helpful in future. Online access to reading list is nice.


3)   What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?

1: The interplay of influences of MS and print in this period was a material combination, and one which should influence medieval and early modern scholarship. I wish more research and teaching faculty could be persuaded to take the course. 2: The intellectual level was extremely high throughout; both lecturers stimulated discussion amongst the class members all week very successfully. They appear to be a perfectly-matched team. Humorous input from both enhanced the intellectual discussion considerably. 3: for my purposes the focus on paper was most enlightening. The level was appropriate in order to be enormously stimulating, but of course made me realize there is so much more to learn. 4: Intellectual level was challenging. Greatest interest: identifying support structures and sheet sizes; characteristics of the manuscript book. 5: The manuscripts/books themselves were the star attractions. In terms of course content, the notion that the c15 should be thought of in terms of print and manuscripts is a rare, yet fundamental, one. The way this was worked out in the course was most useful. Level was appropriate. 6: Discussion of early incunable printing (esp. up to 1480) was of greatest interest. Yes. 7: Seeing the books firsthand and being trained to observe them closely were interesting and relevant. 8: Of greatest interest: methods and vocabulary. Intellectual level: absolutely: rigorous and yet manageable.


4)   Was time devoted to studying original materials at the WAM well spent?

1: Yes -- to the point of dumb-struck amazement. PN and WN know the collection so well that it was like flying through the archives. 2: Yes, very much so. The incunables and manuscripts illustrated perfectly the points the lecturers wished to convey, and were also very useful for stimulating discussion and questions about specific details. 3: Yes! This was an extraordinary opportunity. 4: Absolutely. How could we learn without them? 5: Oh yes! It was the best part of a wonderful week. 6-7: Yes. 8: Yes!


5)   What did you like best about the course?

1: The close collegial relations with instructors and my fellow students, and the chance to be set real puzzles to solve vs. entirely ‘pre-solved’ tests. It is good to see one’s teachers deal with genuinely baffling problems. 2: Immersion in c15 printed and manuscript books and their history for an entire week in the company of outstanding teachers. 3: The opportunity to have two experts share their vast knowledge right then and there with the objects. 4: The scholarship presented, as developed out of thinking about the archaeology of the book. 5: The codices and the world-class instructors. 6: The instructors were excellent and always well-prepared. The materials were spectacular, and there seemed to be original materials available that could illustrate any topic of discussion. The instructors were consistently able to make the best use of the material. 7: The books, and PN and WN’s easygoing manners. 8: Small size, enthusiastic/exceptional instructors, interest/engaged classmates, local resources as material aids.


6)   How could the course have been improved?

1: Somewhat better topic-flagging in even a very brief syllabus -- perhaps on the order of a daily ‘guide to yesterday’s topics and handouts associated with them.” That would enable the instructors to follow their genius each day while giving us a better way to review where we had been. 2: Perhaps the structure of the week could have been set out in advance, but this isn’t a major issue. It’s difficult to think of improvements given the extremely high quality of both the teachers and the teaching materials. 4: Printed outline would help enormously, especially if the student is not a medieval scholar to begin with. 5: Sometimes it was hard to get questions in or to open up discussions -- we were always rushing to the next point without much chance to explore ideas. 6: A syllabus would have been nice. 7: A little more structure. Also, more discussion of how books were used, not just how they were made. 8: Perhaps faster communication from RBS office, but in all fairness I was a late applicant.


7)   We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by our host institutions. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?

1: Great care always was taken. 2: All materials were under the constant supervision of the curator, and only authorized individuals were permitted to handle them. 3: The WAM materials were meticulously handled at all times. 4: Although it may have been perfectly sound practice: is leaving the Archimedes palimpsest under the lights all right for such a long time -- even after viewing? 5: Everything was appropriate and professional. 6: Yes. 7: None. 8: Advise students not to approach manuscripts/incunables with pencil &/or fingers; to urge caution.


8)   If you attended the Sunday and/or Monday night lectures, were they worth attending?

1: Yes. The Archimedes lecture was outstanding: a series of revelations, each of which topped the previous ones. 2: Yes, definitely. William Noel’s lecture on the Archimedes Palimpsest was terrific. 3: Yes, and I look forward to learning more about the ongoing work on the Archimedes. 4: Yes. 5: Yes -- a fine lecture, and the reception (as well as other times spent mingling) was rewarding. 6-7: Yes. 8: Sunday reception - Yes! Monday lecture: unable to attend.

9) If you attended the Tuesday and Wednesday evening tours of WAM and JHU’s Peabody Library, was the time profitably spent?

1: Yes. I had my doubts, but both collections were profitably presented. A little hint about what we might see could help. 2: Definitely -- both speakers gave us an excellent overview of their collections and had clearly spent a good deal of time and effort in preparing for them. 3: Yes. The materials shown were splendid and the comments informative, including Sylvie Merian’s discussion of the Armenian MSS. 4: Yes. 5: Yes -- excellent tours; kudos to John Buchtel and Martina Bagnoli. 6-7: Yes. 8: Yes!


10) Did you get your money’s worth? Any final thoughts?

1: Oh, yes -- happily exhausted but full of ideas for research and teaching for perhaps another decade. Please convey my sincere thanks to the instructors! 2: Absolutely. 3: Yes, absolutely! 4: Totally. 5: These were fabulous instructors, fabulous facilities -- an incredibly useful and inspiring week. 6: I think the course title and description need to be broadened slightly, as we spent a good deal of time talking about pre-c15 manuscripts. 7: The most instructive part of this course was learning how to look at and think about books, even more so than the (generally interesting) details and facts about specific books and editions. 8: Bring plenty of pencils and feel free to ask questions.

Number of respondents: 8



Leave                       Tuition                    Housing                   Travel

Institution                 Institution                 Institution                 Institution

gave me leave            paid tuition               paid housing              paid travel


38%                            38%                            13%                            25%

I took vaca-                I paid tui-                  I paid for my              I paid my own

tion time                    tion myself                 own housing              travel

38%                            25%                            25%                            25%

N/A: self-                   N/A: Self-                   N/A: stayed                N/A: lived

employed, re-             employed,                  with friends               nearby

tired, or had              retired, or                  or lived at

summers off              scholarship                home

25%                            38%                            63%                            50%

There were three rare book librarians (38%) in the course, two students (25%), and one each (13%) teacher/professor, book collector, and other.