Rare Book School

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M-10. Introduction to Paleography, 800-1500

Consuelo Dutschke

This course provides an introduction to the book-based scripts and the text typologies of the western European Middle Ages and the Renaissance from 800 to 1500, from Caroline minuscule through early print. The goal is to learn to read the texts (mainly in Latin); an integral part of this is the recognition of the main types of script according to various categories, by attention to letter forms, abbreviations, and decorative hierarchies. Students will work with digital images and a selection of actual materials; they will learn the basic tools for working with medieval codices; they will begin to assess areas that can provide information on localizing and dating the manuscripts. The main concentration of the course will consist of practical work sessions, both in oral reading and in written transcription in order to build a foundation for eventual advanced study in paleography. Course materials will be distributed on CD-ROM, and much of the classroom work will be based on electronic images, so students may wish to bring their own laptops. However, actual homework will be on paper copies, so if preferred, students may leave their laptops at home.

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 Resources

Course History


Consuelo Dutschke teaches this course for the first time.