This course explores Medieval Manuscript Culture, examining some digitally-preserved British manuscripts, like the Aberdeen Beastiary, the Auchinleck Manuscript, the Book of Kells, the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Beowulf Manuscript (the Nowell Codex), the Luttrell Psalter, and more. Beginning with an introduction into how parchment and inks were made, we will explore medieval paleography (handwriting), and major features of early-to-late-medieval handwriting in workshop settings, allowing us to experience the challenges and aesthetics of various scripts like early insular, uncial, and late Gothic. Students will also work on decorated letters and miniature manuscript paintings, imitating and exploring major visual elements of medieval British manuscripts. Two-thirds of class time will investigate Manuscript Culture and the features and contexts for particular medieval texts; one-third of the class will offer students hands-on workshops where they can experience paleography, decorated letters, and miniature painting. Key questions for the course include: How does the world of the Middle Ages make itself known within medieval manuscripts? Can we locate traces of production, textual reproduction/transmission, and dissemination, as well as identify handwriting, images, and cultural/multicultural material within manuscripts? What influences did manuscripts have on the world of the Middle Ages? How do writing and manuscripts reveal major differences between our world and the medieval world? Are there also continuities?
Upper-division Elective courses allow students to choose (or “elect”) courses or faculty specific to their own developing interests, enabling them thereby to shape their own educational experience.