Roger Wieck

M-50 Introduction to Illuminated Manuscripts

1–5 October 2012

1)    How useful were the pre-course readings? Did you do any additional preparations in advance of the course?

1: The pre-course readings were challenging, but excellent and provided a good framework for the course. I should have started reading earlier so to better study and retain the information. 2: The pre-course readings were extremely helpful. I would suggest anyone taking the class give themselves a few months of time to read, as there is much to absorb—especially if one is unfamiliar with Catholic liturgy. 3: The readings were useful in terms of providing historical context. 4: For the most part, the pre-course readings were very useful, although because they were extensive, some of the chapters could have been skipped. An example was a chapter dedicated to secular literature, history books, poetry, &c., that we did not study in the course. 5: Pre-course readings were vital, but I wish Roger Wieck (RW) had suggested parts of several books where the assignment called for very lengthy readings. 6: All of the assigned preliminary readings were beneficial, especially RW's books. It is essential though to read the background material to understand the focus of the course. 7: Very useful preparation and covered information not discussed in class. 8: Very useful. 9: Very helpful and informative. 10: Helpful, but it was easy to get bogged down in the details. 11: Very useful and thorough; did not have time for much further preparation. 12: There was some duplication, but the information provided valuable background.

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

1: There are wonderful things in the workbook. What would have been very helpful would be the inclusion of a few images from the MSS we discussed as mnemonic devices. 2: All materials were helpful but a few pages of examples of text would be helpful. 3: Yes, they were. 4: The materials were very useful and will be a great resource later. 5: They were helpful in class. I'm not so sure about when I get home. The list of Morgan MSS certainly will be. 6: Yes. 7: Will be useful for future research. Might have liked reproductions/examples in workbook. 8: Yes, useful in class. Yes, will be useful for consulting in the future. 9: Yes. 10: Didn't use them in class, but the bibliography will be useful later. 11: Yes. 12: Very appropriate and will be useful in my work.

3) Have you taken one or more RBS courses before? If so, how did this course compare with your previous coursework?

1: It fell in the middle range of expectations for the week with slightly more pre-course reading. 2: I took this class years ago at RBS. RW continues to be a great teacher and his excitement rubs off on all of us. Seeing the "real" books made a big difference in my appreciation of the work he did. 3: Yes, I have. The other courses were good, but this class was fantastic. The opportunity to see up close and to briefly handle actual MSS at the Morgan is one that makes every penny of the tuition worthwhile. I feel honored to have been accepted into the class. 4: No; this is my first RBS course. 5: I have taken four other courses. All, like this one, were taught by knowledgeable and enthusiastic instructors. And the enthusiasm is infectious. 6: Yes. All have been excellent. 7: Definitely one of the best classes! 8: N/A. 9: Yes (The Printed Book in the West to 1800). Completely different, but complementary. 10: Yes; comparable in level, content, &c. 11: (Only at London Rare Book School) 12: Yes (two others). This was comparable.

4)    What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes?

1: The stories of Anne de Bretagne were enchanting—the work with rubrics and incipits challenging but important and useful. 2: All of it! I really, really liked working on a real Book of Hours. 3: For me, learning how to interpret the structure of the liturgical books was of great personal interest. As a reference librarian, learning the reference material (both in print and online) was of primary importance. 4: The exercise of localizing a calendar and especially the hands-on exercise of cataloging an actual Book of Hours. 5: Missals and books of hours. 6: The showing of the actual manuscripts, not facsimiles, and RW's skill as an instructor. 7: Stylistic/chronological overview; tools for researching, describing, and maybe cataloging MSS. 8: All were of relevance and interest. 9: Viewing the items in the larger context of historical time period. 10: Diagramming/identifying books of hours and their use; identifying calendars. 11: Great improvement of my knowledge of the history of the book, as we covered so many genres I had been largely unaware of. 12: Learning the content of the different books, the accompanying iconography, and the rubrics.

5)    Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information and skills that the course was intended to convey? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?

1: There was a lot of information, so that by Thursday it felt a little overwhelming, but as with all RBS courses, you leave with the intention of going back over the information and continuing to study and learn. 2: Yes. 3: Absolutely. I think the only lacuna in the course was no abbreviated introduction to paleography—not knowing the scripts made the MSS hard to read. 4: Absolutely. I feel I learned a lot and the level was stimulating and sometimes challenging. 5: The course level was pitched very well—it couldn't have been done better. 6: Yes. 7: Appropriate, yes. And RW paid attention to our different background/skills. Course exactly fulfilled course description. 8: Yes—the instructor designed the course content & the exercises with great skill and thought. We learned a tremendous amount of dense, complex material because of the way it was taught. The course was conducted at a very high intellectual level—which was great. 9: Yes and yes. RW never spoke down to the group—he seemed to assume that we were on equal intellectual footing and yet never hesitated to explain if a concept seemed unclear. 10: Yes; although to some degree it did presuppose a level of Latin knowledge and familiarity with Christian liturgy. 11: Yes. 12: Yes. Yes.

6) What did you like best about the course?

1: The enthusiasm of RW and his efforts to make us all feel comfortable with Latin. 2: See response to question number four. 3: Seeing the Farnese hours, working with actual illuminated MSS, listening to RW speak. 4: The hands-on portions like the calendar localizing exercise and Book of Hours cataloging project, which enabled us to put our developing knowledge to actual use. 5: The "hands-on" sessions when we worked and studied "our own" MSS. 6: Viewing the manuscripts up close. 7: RW's teaching style—I love being pushed to think about and explain what we're seeing. 8: See response to question number five—the skillful mix of lectures, viewing of MSS, and personal knowledge given by the instructor. 9: RW's depth of knowledge, his excitement about the topic, and his infectious enthusiasm (and seeing the actual materials). 10: The hands-on activities and their "puzzle" components. 11: Clear and enthusiastic instruction and, naturally, the chance to see such priceless treasures. 12: The depth of knowledge presented, and getting to see some of the treasures of the Morgan.

7) How could the course have been improved?

1: The mix of slides and looking at rare materials was good but I missed the direct, individual handling of materials permitted at the Walters Art Museum (WAM). An unrealistic expectation, perhaps. 2: It's fine! 3: As mentioned above, with a brief introduction to scripts and the ligatures used beforehand. 4: More hands-on components, if at all possible. Even if the cataloging exercise made us examine two Books of Hours instead of one, it would have been very illuminating! 5: Hard to say—it's actually intense sometimes but I don't know how to reduce that. RW must go home exhausted each evening. 7: Hands-on exercises really helped to reinforce material—more of these please! 8: An additional week or two of this course would have been wonderful. 9: More comfortable chairs. 10: A better physical set-up so students could see manuscripts. 11: I would have like to see more secular/literary manuscripts but I recognize that there isn't time. 12: It was difficult to see when RW was showing us a manuscript. Perhaps a bigger table that more people could sit around, or even a Lazy Susan. The room also needs better lighting. I was disappointed that we couldn't photograph (without flash of course). I know the images are online but not the text/pages/layout. That would have been helpful for later reference.

8)    Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn? Y/ N

1: Yes. And more. 2–12: Yes.

9)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course? Y/N

1–6: Yes. 7: Yes. I feel way more comfortable working with/analyzing liturgical books now. 8–11: Yes 12: Yes. I would have liked a mini-lesson on border art.

10)  How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?

1: I am working with c18 English materials but will pursue learning about manuscripts and illuminations on my own. It has become a personal interest. 2: My own enjoyment. 3: I'll be cataloging facsimiles on occasion and this will make the task easier. 4: I can apply this to my bibliographic instruction sessions for students of medieval art history at my university. 5: Further study of this material using online resources and also my own 1534 printed Book of Hours. 7: Both on the job (cataloging, exhibitions) and for research. 8: Constantly during the course of my work handling MSS and in the course of giving reference and research help to readers. 9: Most immediately (next week) in working with undergrads using leaves of manuscripts in our collections. 10: Examining manuscript materials at my institution, teaching about manuscripts. 11: Since I work with printed books, the knowledge will be useful mostly as background and general knowledge; I consider a long view of book history very important. 12: In my work identifying/cataloging the VW's teaching collection of single leaves.

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

1: Highest standard of handling I've encountered. 2: I think they do a fine job. 4: A good mix of showing slides and actual objects. Some actual objects were hard to see. Perhaps two simultaneous showings of the objects so that there would be six students looking on instead of twelve? 5: What handling? 7: Be more strict about handling! Feel free to scold us. 8: It was great that students could handle MSS. It does cause wear, so the PML is generous with this material. 9: A better way for a group of this size to view the manuscripts would be great. Perhaps more physical space? And the items could be placed on a Lazy Susan of a sort to rotate it for viewing. 10: None: seemed fine. 11: Handled with great care. 12: See my notes above. At the January class at the WAM, we had a couple of sessions where 8–10 books were set up at stations. We were able to move around, not touching but looking in a more leisurely way.

12)  Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Yes. 2: Yes! Yes! 3: I sure did. Yes, I would. 4: Yes, and yes! 5: Absolutely times two. 6: Yes. 7: I would definitely recommend this course—but since there was no water, tea, coffee, snacks, &c. offered at the Morgan, think there should be a discount for this class versus the others. 8: Yes, and yes. 9: Yes, and absolutely! 10: Yes, absolutely. 11: Yes. 12: Absolutely, I loved every minute of it.

13)  Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year? (If you have further RBS praise or concerns, or if you have suggestions for a new course, please contact Amanda Nelsen [] or Michael Suarez [].)

1: Many thanks to RW, the Morgan, and RBS staff for a wonderful week! 2: Get more comfortable chairs! These are so uncomfortable. 3: Do the readings. 4: Thank you very much to RW for his energy and generosity in sharing his vast knowledge and expertise! One suggestion to RW regarding our brief presentations on our Books of Hours: perhaps you could provide a description of what aspects of our Books we should discuss with our fellow students. I wasn't sure when I was presenting what was useful for other students to know about. 5: Be sure to do the reading and if it fits review your own high school Latin. 7: I'm DEHYDRATED. Please at least provide bottled water on breaks. It's hard to run out to café, get something, drink it, and make it back in time. 8: The RBS is very fortunate to have RW teach this course. His knowledge of the material is extraordinary. We were all beneficiaries of his years of thoughtful and insightful work on illuminated MSS. 10: I know logistics are a problem, but it would have been nice to supply some snacks/water at breaks (like in Charlottesville) and a place to sit during breaks. I wound up feeling a bit dehydrated and tired. 11: It wasn't an issue for me, but RBS might want to add a disclaimer that the class is very heavy on the details of Catholic belief and practice (which the reading list indicates, I suppose).

Number of respondents: 12





Institution gave me leave


5 (42%)


I took vacation time


1 (8%)


N/A: self-employed, retired or had the summers off


6 (50%)


I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course






Institution paid tuition


2 (17%)


Institution paid tuition ___%


1 (8%)


I paid tuition myself


9 (75%)


Exchange or barter




N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship





Institution paid housing




Institution paid for ___% of housing




I paid for my own housing


5 (42%)


N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home


7 (58%)





Institution paid travel


1 (8%)


Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel


6 (50%)


N/A: lived nearby


5 (42%)





There were four librarians with some rare book duties (34%), two others (interested in Books of Hours) (17%), one retiree (8%), three rare book librarians (25%), one full-time MLIS student (8%), one volunteer at a special collections library (8%).


How did you hear about this course?


RBS Website

8 (68%)

Work Colleague

1 (8%)


1 (8%)

 ("saw RW at an event in Chicago and he mentioned it to me)



Word of mouth

1 (8%)

RBS faculty or staff recommendation

1 (8%)