July 22, 2013 § 2 Comments
One core component of vHMML is the Library, which supports online access to literature on manuscript studies, diplomatics, paleography, and codicology. Many out-of-copyright texts have been already been digitized by others and are available through a variety of online services. In addition, HMML staff has identified many gaps and has moved to fill these in. The earlier works include titles by Maurist authors (who “re-discovered” manuscript studies in the 17th and 18th centuries), writing manuals from the 16th to the 19th centuries, as well as later monographs and catalogs on manuscripts.
HMML staff has built a large bibliography with links to online versions of books and articles (where they exist) using a free online resource, Zotero (www.zotero.org): https://www.zotero.org/groups/manuscript_studies/items. This program allows us to work together on this bibliography, not only among HMML staff, but also with our collaborators at other institutions. The most developed list is the one titled “Paleography collection,” but we continue to work on all of the lists and add new links as we can. The goal is to incorporate this bibliography (and links) into the vHMML structure itself.
One area where the use of visual data can be very helpful is the description of writing practices–both the tools used and the way that scribes were expected to sit while writing. Such knowledge can help us understand the physicality of manuscript books, while also providing some insight into the way the letters were formed on the page (even allowing us to better interpret them as readers).
Here is a brief gallery from early modern writing manuals. First we see examples of the tools needed:
Then we have depictions of proper posture:
We even have portraits of writing masters with their pens in hand–note their hand posture:
Sometimes, however, the writer’s posture is not quite ideal:
Finally, HMML’s online image database, Vivarium, contains several photographs from medieval manuscript depictions of scribes and writers. Most of these are saints, often writing themselves, occasionally dictating to someone else. These, too, can provide clues about the proper posture (usually “two-fisted”) for writing, the preferred layout for desk (or occasionally on the “laptop”), and how to hold a pen. Here is a selection of digital images showing someone writing.
Examples of scribes/authors at their desks (or writing in their laps) from medieval manuscripts in Vivarium:
- Admont, Stiftsbibliothek: Codex Admontensis 21 (Nicholas of Lyra)
- Admont, Stiftsbibliothek: Codex Admontensis 34 (Nicholas of Lyra)
- Admont, Stiftsbibliothek: Codex Admontensis 37 (Saint Jerome)
- Admont, Stiftsbibliothek: Codex Admontensis 281 (scribe)
- Bonn, University Library: Cod. S 336 (King David)
- Bonn, University Library: Cod. S 336 (Moses)
- Cologne, Diocesan and Cathedral Library: Cod. 1001a (Saint Jerome dictating to a scribe)
- Cologne, Historical Archives: HAStK 7010 312 (Evangelist Mark)
- Frankfurt, University Library: Ms. lat. qu. 25 (Ausst. 31; monk)
- Frankfurt, University Library: Ms. lat. qu. 65 (author)
- Klosterneuburg, Stiftsbibliothek: Codex Claustroneoburgensis 35 (Albertus Magnus)
- Klosterneuburg, Stiftsbibliothek: Codex Claustroneoburgensis 37 (Saint John?)
- Linz, Upper Austrian Library: Codex 131 (neu 501; Nicholas von Dinkelsbuehl?)
- Linz, Upper Austrian Library: Codex 186 (neu 472)
- Linz, Upper Austrian Library: Codex 195 (neu 415; Evangelist Matthew).
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus 2 (author)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus 51 (Odo of Cluny)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus 1169 (Saint Jerome)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus 1199 (Saint Jerome)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus 1200 (Saint Jerome)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus 1904 (Saint Jerome)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus 1940 (Evangelist John)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus 1951 (Evangelist Luke)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus. Slav. 1 (Evangelist Matthew)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus. Slav. 6 (Evangelist Luke)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus. Suppl. gr. 50+ (Evangelist John)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus. Suppl. gr. 50+ (Evangelist Matthew)
- Vienna, Austrian National Library: Codex Vindobonensis Palatinus. Theol. gr. 300 (Evangelist Luke)
- Zwettl, Stiftsbibliothek: Codex Zwettlensis 53 (Saint Isidore)
Until next time, happy writing!
May 31, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Every year for the past several years, HMML has collaborated with the Center for Medieval Studies (University of Minnesota) to put on what some refer to as “manuscript bootcamp.” Aside from the fact that our sessions are somewhat more “civilized” than bootcamp, several weeks of rain may require that our visitors actually wear boots this year!
The Minnesota Manuscript Research Laboratory (MMRL) is a five-day introduction to the world of paleography and codicology that provides graduate students (and others) with a general introduction to scripts and the parts of a manuscript book, as well as the opportunity to pursue a special manuscript project of their own choosing. Almost half of the time is spent meeting with the group for lectures/discussion, and the remainder is for practicums and individual research.
The primary teachers are Diane Anderson and Theresa Vann, although I am allowed to say a few words on fifteenth-century printing , especially in the context of the evolving nature of the book. While HMML is primarily a library of manuscript images (either digital or microfilm), it does have a good supply of early manuscripts that have been donated over the years. The students get the opportunity to study the structure of a book with an actual manuscript and not just from a secondary source.
The Minnesota Manuscript Research Laboratory also poses an opportunity for HMML to present vHMML to a new audience. The lexicon of terms, the bibliography for manuscript studies, and the folio collection of manuscript images for practice and study will all play a role in the gatherings this week. As with vHMML, our goal in this workshop is to start scholars in the practice of working with materials directly, not just through editions or secondary literature.
Every MMRL brings a new mix of scholarly interests. This year we have five participants. One is interested in Icelandic and Germanic literatures, one in 9th-century manuscripts, while others are studying the Crusades and medieval Northern Africa, book history and the preservation of historical materials. As always, we learn from our visitors as well!
So, we don’t actually sing any camp songs or make s’mores, but we do have a lot of fun–after all, studying actual documents from five centuries ago (or longer) is always fun, even when it is work! Fortunately, we are not allowed to eat s’mores around the manuscripts and incunabula!
Enjoy learning about manuscripts? Maybe you can join us in 2014!
Be sure to bring your Introduction by Clemens/Graham and your Cappelli!
Until then, Peace!
Textbooks for the class:
Raymond Clemens/Timothy Graham. Introduction to Manuscript Studies (2007)
Michell Brown. Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts (1994)
May 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
One Saturday in Kalamazoo with vHMML!
This past week was the 48th iteration of the International Congress for Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo, Michigan). Thousands of medievalists showed up to share their research and some wine (or beer, if you prefer). HMML also showed up at numerous sessions, including one on developing digital resources for Austria, Germany and Switzerland. I took this opportunity to make a presentation on our vHMML work over the past (and future) few months. Below are the slides from this preservation for your perusal! It has been a busy time and much has been (and remains to be) done.
Click on any image to enlarge it.
April 24, 2013 § 2 Comments
At almost 600 terms, the Lexicon is just about ready for testing. The editorial work has reached a point where we need to see how it works, looks, and feels in its natural format before further work can be done. And to find answers to the questions we are asking ourselves, like “Do we need to write a separate ‘short definition’ for each term, or can the Lexicon do this on the fly?” “Do we need a separate field for broad classifications like script and initials?” and the one everyone asks, “When is it ever going to stop snowing, for crying out loud?”
The Lexicon is envisioned as having several functions. It will support the Scriptorium by letting students quickly look up unfamiliar vocabulary tools and providing more detailed information about terminology. It will provide a forum for discussion of paleographical and codicological concepts as registered users can submit revisions and updates to its definitions. Its structures will not assume that western Latin manuscripts are the norm, and its entries will list the words used in different languages for each term. So far, the Lexicon has proved most useful in standardizing portions of the records in HMML’s online catalog, OLIVER, particularly the ones for “script” and “decoration.”
Currently, the Lexicon lives in a Google docs spreadsheet. The fields are:
- Rec ID. Record identification number. Originally assigned for the initial list of terms, and not updated since.
- Term. The word or words that require a definition.
- Priority. An internal ranking, not intended for public view.
- Short Definition. A brief description of the term. Maximum length is two sentences.
- Full Definition. A detailed description of the term, which may discuss related terms. The Full Definition would contain disputes over the meaning or use of the term.
- Definition from Brown. VHMML received permission from the British Library to quote Michelle P. Brown’s Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms (http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/glossary.asp). We assigned a separate field for quotes from this glossary to ensure they received proper attribution in the Lexicon.
- Bibliography. Either the source for the term or the source for the definition.
- Contributor. The initials of the writer of the definitions; also, the initials of later editors and contributors.
- Images. Intended for the file name and/or location of the image that illustrates the Full Definition.
- Notes. Internal use only; not intended to supplement either the Short Definition or the Long Definition.
- Related Terms (See also). Either terms that were used as part of the Full Definition, or terms for similar things, scripts, initials, or concepts.
- Classification. To record which broad category a term belongs to, such as “script” “initial” “support” or “decoration.”
- The last eight fields are containers for the equivalent terms in French, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Armenian, and Syriac.
The editorial policy of the Lexicon is developing. The HMML staff drew up the list of terms for the Lexicon last year, and while we acknowledged that paleographers did not agree on terminology we did not think it would present problems before the Lexicon went online. We found that certain terms have been deprecated, and have been replaced in modern catalogs and descriptions. It was easy to redirect from the older terms to the preferred versions. But some are still controversial. The term Biting letters provides a good example. I thought this term was ambiguous when we reviewed the Lexicon last summer. I originally thought it referred to a condition found in Mediterranean manuscripts, where many scribes and notaries wrote on paper with acidic ink originally designed for parchment. The ink “bit” into the paper, making it difficult to alter legal documents. Sadly, the ink continues to eat into the paper, leaving letter-shaped holes in its wake. I was informed, however, that “biting letters” meant letters that touched each other. Albert Derolez, The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, prefers the term “fusion,” and that’s fine with me. However, not everyone agrees with Derolez. Erik Kwakkel anthropomorphizes script in his article “Biting, kissing, and the treatment of feet,” in Turning Over a New Leaf. Not only do letters bite each other, but according to him when they are almost touching they are “kissing” each other. Other paleographers who prefer not to speculate on the private life of western medieval letter forms use the word “junction.”
In this instance, where the neophyte could easily encounter the three different terms in contemporary sources, the HMML staff thinks that the Full Definition and the Related Terms should contain the meaning of the term and refer to alternative terms.
April 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
printed\written/ text is never really finished …
(Please click on any picture to enlarge it.)
In my previous vHMML post, I introduced some of our work on the vHMML Lexicon by demonstrating the extensive use of abbreviations in manuscripts, primarily through examples from a brief passage in a 13th-century sermon fragment. The best way to learn about manuscript practices is to see them and work to interpret them. Today I turn my attention to another concept from the Lexicon (and perhaps eventually the vHMML School as well): corrections to the copied text. vHMML will also include a Gallery of digital images with fuller descriptions that will support their use as examples for various characteristics of manuscripts, both for teaching and for review. Demonstrating different kinds of corrections is one of these possibilities for the Gallery.
Correcting texts is a necessary part of all book production. This was no less true in the Middle Ages than it is now. People (whether copying or typesetting) make mistakes! In the world of print, such mistakes were mostly corrected by removing the incorrect letters and replacing them with the correct ones. In this picture of early proofreading marks in a missal (at the Plantin-Moretus Printing Museum, Antwerp), we can see where the proofreader indicated the need for changes. Sometimes corrections involved replacing entire pages, or gluing corrections over mistakes. Only those mistakes that were discovered too late in the printing process were listed in the corrigenda at the end of many books. The end-result was always that the reader should have a finished product (or at least the illusion thereof) and not a text that was, so to speak, still in progress.
In the past, manuscripts were frequently copied in scriptoria, places where there were numerous people employed in the various activities related to the copying of texts in books. Within these workgroups would be the correctors who verify and finalize the leaves of the manuscript. Most such mistakes are sins of omission, usually prompted by similar sequences of letters or words, including eye-skip (jumping from one line to another) and haplography (omitting a repeated set of letters).
Today I have examples from a late-13th/early 14th-century copy of the New Testament in Latin—Saint John’s manuscript SJU Ms. 12. This manuscript is very tiny–pocket-sized–with treatment of the initials in red and blue, but no illustrations. Even with the tiniest writing that one can imagine, the script is still pretty legible (if only with reading glasses!). I only ventured a few pages into the text, but found corrections (usually multiple) on nearly every page. The text also shows extensive use of abbreviations. My hope below is to show some of the ways in which these corrections appear, which of course are especially there for the readers of the text, giving them the task of arranging the final order of the text.
From the story of the three Magi on the way to Bethlehem, we find the deletion of a surplus word through crossing out and subpunction (dots under the word to be deleted). In the middle line we find that the word “stella(m)” was copied twice, the first time in the wrong place: “vidimus stellam enim stellam eius in oriente” should read “vidimus enim stellam eius in oriente.” The corrector has both crossed out the word in red and placed dots under the word to direct the reader to omit this in reading. This kind of error is generally one of the easiest to correct and most straightforward for the reader.
It can be a little more complicated when a word or letter has been accidently omitted in the copying. In the case below (Matthew 4), the word “est” has been accidently omitted, and added in its abbreviated form (ē) in the right margin. The use of the caret, just like today, indicates where the word belongs. For readers, this means that they must stop momentarily and reconstruct the correct word order. In the same section is the deletion of the unwanted word “au(tem).”
Similar to the first example, the correction below remains entirely in one location on the page. In this case, however, letters have been erased through scraping the parchment and then replaced with new ones. The main visual clues are the different ink color and the text extending into the margin (breaking the “rule” you might say). The text now reads: “ad nichilum ualet ultra nisi ut mittatur foras …” (Matthew 5).
Here, again, we find multiple corrections: At the end of chapter 5, the word “ethennici” has been changed to “etnici” and in the first line of chapter 6 the words “ne iustitiam” have been inserted into the last line from below: “Attendite /ne iustitiam\ uestram faciatis co …” Note in the latter correction the use of a symbol that looks a little like a percent sign (%)and a little like a division sign (÷). We will see more of this symbol in different contexts below.
Sometimes longer passages may be circled to make them stand out. In this case, a longer line was omitted accidently, due to the repetition of the phrase “in abscondito” in the original: “sed Patri tuo, qui est in abscondito: \et Pater tuus qui videt in abscondito/ reddet tibi. Nolite …” The red marks in the line next to the text in the margin indicate the place to insert the additional text. This is a classic example of eye-skip, where the copier’s gaze left the exemplar at one location and returned to it in a different (but nearly identical) one.
This example confused me a little. It comes near the beginning of chapter 9 of Matthew. There is no obvious sign in the text to indicate the point of insertion. In this case, the text in the lower margin should be inserted in the fourth line of the paragraph, between the word “paralyticam” and “confide.” There seems to be an insertion symbol (%) at that point, but the symbol is not entirely clear because it overlaps with adjacent letters and abbreviations.
Finally we find a clear pair of markings. Here the corrector has included a special mark (our friend, the percent sign: %) in the text that guides the reader to the text in the margin (with its matching symbol). This matching symbol is called the signe-de-renvoi. As we have seen, in this manuscript, such signs are not always in place or may be difficult to see.
Finally, an example that shows a different kind of emendation: the scribe has apparently copied the text out of correct order—neither omitting text nor adding text. The paired red slashes that look like quotation marks are around the phrase “nisi filius” which is to be moved to the place where the ÷-symbol is located. This kind of correction is probably more difficult for most readers to catch than simple deletions or insertions.
All of my examples here come from a text that was probably the best known text in the Middle Ages — the New Testament. That copyists still made mistakes in such a popular and standardized text shows the difficulty of producing books by hand. The elaborate system for deleting, inserting and rearranging parts of the text (known here as “corrections”) may have been more difficult to follow with less familiar works. But in the end, readers likely did not live in the illusion of a “perfect” (or finished) text … until the advent of printing.
QuickRef: For a good, basic overview of corrections, see: Raymond Clemens & Timothy Graham, Introduction to Medieval Studies (Ithaca; London, 2007), pp. 35-38.
March 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
One important background support for the various vHMML modules is the Lexicon, which contains a lengthy list of terms that one is likely to encounter when studying manuscripts. Of course, just a list is not enough, so we have researched the terms to provide definitions. One important source we have looked to is Michelle P. Brown’s Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts (1994), which is graciously provided for free by the British Library at:
Brown’s definitions are superb for the study of western manuscripts and for illuminated manuscripts. In many cases, our own definitions refer back to this basic text for manuscript studies. However, vHMML has a wider range than illuminated or western manuscripts. So, we have endeavored to create both short, quick reference definitions and longer, more detailed definitions, together with bibliographic citations and links to online resources where they exist. One such sample definition is our entry for Abbreviations. Abbreviations are almost like codes–if you don’t know (or can’t break) the code, you can’t understand the text. Unfortunately for medievalists, abbreviations were extremely common throughout the manuscript culture, and many lasted well into print as well. So, learning to break the code helps both with written and with printed works! Read through the definition below and then look at the sample–remember that we will link through to basic sources, like the online version of Adriano Cappelli’s dictionary of abbreviations. Let us know what you think!
Remember – you can click on an image to enlarge it!
A method of shortening words that can be in the form of initials, suspensions, contractions, or symbols.
A method of shortening words that can be in the form of initials, suspensions, contractions, or symbols.
• Initials may be the first letters of a word, with a period indicating missing letters.
• Suspensions: the end of the word is omitted with a mark indicating the missing letters.
• Contractions: a graphic symbol to replace letters in the beginning, middle, or end of the word.
• Frequently-used words were replaced by symbols.
In Latin, and in languages using the Latin alphabet, common suspensions include a semicolon (for “que” or “bus”), or a bar (or macron) over a letter (“aū” = “autem”). Bars are also used in the middle of words as contractions. A superscript 9 at the end of a word indicates the ending “us,” “os,” or “is.” A superscript 2 indicates an “er” or “ur” ending. Since the Latin abbreviations were used in other western European languages, the same core reference (Cappelli) is recommended as the first resource for interpreting abbreviations in western manuscripts.
The most common abbreviation symbols are for words like “et,” such as the the ampersand (&). The Tironian note for “et” (which looks like stylized “7″ (⁊)) is named for Cicero’s secretary Tiro, who used it as a shorthand symbol. Abbreviations for sacred names (also called “nomina sacra”) are common, like the Chi-Rho (⳩) or xps for the word Χριστός or “Christus.”
Abbreviations in Syriac manuscripts are marked with a line over the last written letter or letters of the shortened form, as in ܬܫܒܘ̄ for ܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ, and Armenian scribes employed a similar practice.
Arabic abbreviations, which are more extensive, are of four kinds: truncations (تع for تعالى); contractions (قه for قوله); sigla, that is, one letter for a whole word (م for متن, etc.); and symbols (the more or less stylized horizontal stroke for سنة).
So, here is a short example from one of HMML’s own manuscript fragments–a pastedown leaf from a codex, Barton Williams Ms. 1 (collection of sermons).
All of these abbreviations can be found in just a few lines of text. Here is a sample from the manuscript, along with a brief transcription (from the Patrologia Latina, vol. 171). Note that the text in the edition does not always follow the same word order as the manuscript. See if you can find the abbreviations in the manuscript and see where they fit into the text!
[... infirma]tus est. Sileat Osee, quia fornicariam duxit uxorem. Sileat Amos, quia Propheta non est, sed pastor vellicans sycomoros. Erumpat vox Ecclesiae, et dicat: Apparuit humanitas, et deitas Salvatoris nostri; venit enim non tantum cum vino et oleo, sed etiam cum purpura et sacco. Christus quidem Deus et homo modo quaedam agebat, in quibus apparebat verus …