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 …
March 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Although March snow has fallen on Collegeville, it has not stopped work on vHMML. As of this moment, the Library contains 1,449 bibliography entries for paleography and manuscript studies. More will be added this afternoon when our student worker reports in and begins data entry into the Zotero Manuscript Library database. The Zotero records also point to legally-digitized on-line copies or to copies on the shelves in HMML.
Before vHMML began, HMML had selectively digitized its finest manuscripts and rare books for Vivarium and for the World Digital Library. Since vHMML began, HMML has systematically digitized more of its manuscripts and out-of-copyright books. Today sixty-five printed books from the Library’s rare print collections have been added to Vivarium; fifty-three rare and out-of-copyright books from HMML’s shelves wait to be added.
The vHMML project has given HMML an impetus to digitize and catalog its own manuscripts. The Library made 18 manuscripts freely available in Vivarium before vHMML began. The initial work on vHMML revealed 155 manuscripts in the collections of Saint John’s University/Hill Museum & Manuscript Library that remained to be digitized. The manuscripts range in date from the 14th to the 20th century and are written in many different languages. Most had been given to Saint John’s at some point in the past forty-plus years. Some are well-cataloged, while little is known about others. The staff prioritized work on the items, choosing to photograph the oldest ones first, regardless of the state of cataloging.
Fifty-three complete manuscripts have been digitized on site. Thirteen of these have detailed records in OLIVER, including links to published texts and other materials. Back in the 1970s-80s, HMML made black and white microfilms of ten of the newly-digitized manuscripts. These ten already had OLIVER records taken from the microfilms. The workflow proves a fact that the HMML staff has known for many years now; photography proceeds much faster than cataloging. The production of detailed OLIVER records lags behind the pace of digitization. Since some of the materials require re-cataloging, the effort currently focuses on the Latin and European vernacular manuscripts.
After the fall vHMML meetings the staff decided to work on the 364 medieval and renaissance manuscript fragments from the collections of Saint John’s University and the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library. These fragments, consisting of single leaves or gatherings from codices, were digitized. The digital images were assigned vHMML numbers and placed in an on-line gallery. Half of the fragments originated from the Arca Artium collection. Undergraduates had cataloged them as art objects, not manuscript fragments. A common description reads “Ink, on parchment. Calligraphy.” The students could not always tell the difference between printed works and manuscripts. These fragments are being sorted and re-identified. Multiple leaves from fragmentary codices, which had been counted as separate items, are being re-united. The goal is to create complex OLIVER records that better describe the manuscripts and texts. As of today thirty-six OLIVER records have been created from the images in the vHMML manuscript fragment gallery.
The Lexicon had been the first aspect of vHMML that the staff worked on together. In some ways, it is the simplest to understand, because it is a glossary of terminology and concepts used in manuscript studies. In other ways, however, it has required a new way of thinking about manuscript cultures. There are already lexicons and guides to specialized vocabulary for paleography and manuscript studies, but most these assume that the user is working on Latin manuscripts from western Europe. The primary challenge has been to define the terms in a way that does not privilege one manuscript culture over another.
Many of the words in the Lexicon were culled from OLIVER itself. The process of collecting terms from OLIVER allowed the staff to establish a control vocabulary, something the unruly database has long needed. Other sources were Michelle P. Brown, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts (Getty, British Library, 1994); Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007); and Geoffrey Ashall Glaister, Encyclopedia of the Book, 2nd ed. (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press; London: The British Library, 1996). The British Library graciously gave vHMML permission to quote extensively from Brown’s book with attribution.
As of now, the Lexicon consists of 707 words. The staff assigned the words to first, second, and third priority. A fourth rank of words which other glossaries used were not assigned any priority because staffers deemed them “eurocentric,” “elitist,” or simply “unneccessary.” Some of the terms required immediate disambiguation, such as “cleavage,” “chemise,” and “alum-tawed thongs.” You can download a pdf of the current lexicon to see how we’re doing; the terms highlighted in yellow still need to be completed (http://www.hmml.org/vHMML/Definitions%20lexicon%20-%20Sheet1.pdf). Do let us know if there’s any terms you think we should add.
The Lexicon will serve the other parts of vHMML — the Scriptorium, the Library, the Folio Collection, and the School. You may not know that you’re using it, even as you wonder what “harags” are or just what makes a stroke “otiose.”
February 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
One of the core modules that feeds content into vHMML is the Folio Collection, which will contain digital copies of manuscript leaves with extensive descriptions. Over the last few weeks we have been working on identifying appropriate manuscript samples from HMML’s digital files, microfilm, and original collections. As my previous post indicated, we have compiled extensive lists of manuscript images to help with creating tutorials, the lexicon and building the gallery. Today I would like to further this discussion in a slightly different direction. On a separate blog site I posted a number of close-up images from HMML’s own small collection of early manuscript fragments, mostly from the 10th to the 13th century (booksfromthehmmlbasement.blogspot.com). These give a small foretaste of the kinds of scripts that were common in those days. Included with that post was a collection of sample close-up images in Picasa (https://picasaweb.google.com/112955289865277743856/EarlyLatinScriptsInHMMLManuscripts?authuser=0&feat=directlink).
In this post I would like to turn to one example from the HMML fragment collection, Saint John’s Ms. Frag. 2, a twelfth-century Bible fragment containing passages from the book of Daniel, chapters 6 and 7:
The leaf is 152 x 202 mm. in size and written on parchment. It is the bottom half of a leaf, torn horizontally, with the top half missing. We do not have in our records any place of origin—perhaps one of our paleographical friends would like to offer some ideas?
I decided to use this fragment as an opportunity to practice transcription, and since it is from a Bible, the text was rather easy to find online. I used a copy from www.drbo.org which has the entire Bible in the Vulgate. The manuscript shows many examples of corrections by a second hand, some of which may not be entirely correct themselves.
One preliminary part of this project was to create an alphabet based on the letterforms within the manuscript itself. I put these into a chart (cutting-and-pasting is handy for this) that I created in a word processor:
For my transcription, I tried to follow the general rules set out by Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham in their Introduction to Manuscript Studies (2007), p.74ff. This means that expanded abbreviations appear within parentheses, portions of missing text added by me are within double square brackets ([[ and ]]), corrections are indicated with slashes (\ / if the correction is above the line and / \ if it is within the line), and so on. One area that was a little unclear for me in the transcription is the best practice for indicating punctuation. I inserted a “floating period” (i.e. a bullet) to indicate the punctus elevatus and a period for the punctus versus.
Here is my transcription of one brief passage (Daniel 6:23-25, incomplete):
Precep[[it educi de lacu]]
Eductusq(ue) \est/ danihel de lacu
& nulla lesio [[inu]]enta est
in eo • quia credidit D(e)o suo.
Iubente au(tem) rege adducti
sunt uiri illi qui accusaue
rant danihelem • & in lacum
leonum missi sunt • ipsi & fi
lii & uxores eorum. & non
p(er)uenerunt \usque/ ad pauimentu(m)
laci • donec arriperent eos
leones • & om(ni)a ossa eo(rum) com
minuer/e\nt. Tunc darius
rex scripsit uniuersis po
pulis • tribubus & linguis …
Daniel 6:23-25 (incomplete)
n.b.: comminuerent should be comminuerunt per www.drbo.org
Let me know what you think and how you would change the transcription! More importantly—can someone out there offer a more precise time frame for this script, or perhaps even a possible origin of the manuscript? I hope over the coming weeks to bring you even more examples like this one, from other manuscripts, using other scripts.
Until next time, peace, matt heintzelman