6-9 October 2006
1) How useful were the pre-course readings?
1: Very useful. Would not have survived the course without them. 2: Very useful. Directly relevant to the work of the entire course. It was also good that some of the sources listed as pre-course readings were actually used during the class. 3: Most of the readings were helpful in providing a context and orientation, especially AD’s book. Others (I am thinking of Bischoff in particular here) were too abstract to be helpful without a specific context. 4: The readings were useful, but I think I will get more out of them now that I have taken the course. 5: Very.
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: On both counts: yes. 2: Definitely yes. I’m going to purchase my own copies of most of them (funds permitting...). 3: In general, yes, though the quality of the xeroxed manuscript leaves sometimes left much to be desired. At times it made the process of reading an already difficult manuscript more difficult. 4: Yes. I will certainly consult the materials when I get home. The only complaint I have is that the photocopies of the MSS are a few generations too old and therefore often unclean. It would be a good idea to redo the reading packet by going back to the orginial sources and making high-quality scans. 5: Yes.
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: Being able to begin to understand and distinguish among various types of manuscripts and be able to better understand paleographic scholarly writings. 2: I particularly enjoyed and benefitted from the in-class practice we got in reading and transcription. The intellectual quality of the course was top-notch; this I attribute both to the instructor’s extraordinary expertise and to the very high level of preparation of the other participants. 3: For me, the most relevant were the practical instructions and exercises in learning to read manuscripts, though all was useful. 4: All of it. I will use all of the skills for my job cataloguing manuscripts. The level was perfect. 5: The characteristics which define particular scripts and which help to localize or date scripts. Intellectual level appropriate.
4) If your course left its classroom to visit Special Collections (SC) or to make other field trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well-spent?
1: Yes. 2: We transcribed from MS specimens in SC. This was very good exercise, and much better than working from photocopies, photo plates, or even digital images. 3: Yes, we spent three sessions at SC transcribing actual manuscript leaves. It was very helpful to work with some manuscript leaves directly. 4: Yes, the time was well-spent. 5: Yes.
5) What did you like best about the course?
1: Small class, adherence to the plan of coverage, personality of the teacher, availability of reference books and original manuscript examples, expert classmates combined with the ability of the teacher to challenge the participants depending on their level. 2: The collegial fellowship of the other participants, and, above all, the instructor’s approachable and humane teaching persona, which I have to admit I didn’t necessarily expect from an international scholar of his standing and seniority. He is a huge asset to your program. 3: The instructor was terrific. Amazingly knowledgeable, approachable, and a pleasure to listen to for six hours a day -- no mean feat. I also liked the practical nature of the course. I feel much better equipped to read late medieval manuscripts. 4: The instructor was great. Very helpful and affable and approachable. My classmates were also smart, interesting, and insightful. 5: Knowledgeable and personable instructor; transcriptions.
6) How could the course have been improved?
2: A slide projector with a really high-powered bulb would be very helpful. 3: Improved xeroxed readers. Also, at times it would have been helpful to ask the students to try and “sight read” the examples studied together in class. 4: See #2! The photocopies are really old! 5: Clearer images in photocopied packet.
7) We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by UVa’s Special Collections. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?
2: See my answer to question 6. I have no regrets at all about taking this course, but my poor eyes have suffered this week! Better lighting in the classroom and some book/paper cradles to bring materials closer to the face would be great. 3: None. If anything, SC was a little overly protective of their materials. 4: I actually think the SC is too careful with regard to handling. I think it’s a bit silly to ask RBS staff to turn a sheet over for us to see the other side.
9) Did you get your money’s worth? Any final thoughts?
1: I got my money’s worth. Be sure that you’ve read recommended materials before arriving in Charlottesville, in particular if your formal exposure to paleography has been limited. 2: Absolutely, yes! This was an extraordinary intellectual experience, of a quality I’ve rarely encountered in my life. Thank you for maintaining your high standards! The small class size was also very helpful. If you had admitted more, but less qualified, people, it would have made it difficult to cover so much so well. 3: Yes. An intense, but very useful week. Participants should be sure that their Latin in strong and that they have done some work previously with manuscripts. 4: Yes I did. I would just let people know that it’s really important to have a good grasp of Latin. 5: Wonderful class, highly recommended, although it’s very exhausting!
Number of respondents: 5
Leave Tuition Housing Travel
Institution Institution Institution Institution
gave me leave paid tuition paid housing paid travel
60% 80% 40% 40%
I took vaca- I paid tui- I paid for my I paid my own
tion time tion myself own housing travel
20% 20% 60% 40%
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
20% 0% 0% 20%
There were two rare book librarians (40%), two teacher/professors (40%), and one book-collector (20%).