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2006 Summer Seminar on Medieval Manuscript Studies at the University of New Mexico


Timothy C. Graham, University of New Mexico

In a new venture, the Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of New Mexico hosted a four-week summer seminar on "Paleography and Codicology," July 3–28, 2006. Directed by Timothy C. Graham, the seminar was open to graduate students with a sufficient degree of basic preparation and a need to acquire training in the field of medieval manuscript studies. The seminar included twelve participants from seven different institutions:

  • Patricia Amato (University of Arizona)
  • Brian Douglass (University of New Mexico)
  • Micah A. Erwin (Western Michigan University)
  • Christopher Franklin (University of New Mexico)
  • Eugene A. Hamilton (University of New Mexico)
  • Amelia Ippoliti (Rio Rancho Public Schools)
  • Kristen A. Lawson (University of Arizona)
  • Jennifer Mansfield (Marylhurst University)
  • Stephen P. McCormick (University of Oregon)
  • George W. Neal (University of North Texas)
  • Adriana Cordova Roberson (Independent Scholar)
  • Marisa Sikes (University of New Mexico)

The seminar sought to provide participants with a comprehensive orientation to manuscript studies through a detailed consideration of the process of manuscript production—from the initial preparation of the writing support up through the binding and storage of the completed codex—and an in-depth survey and analysis of the major scripts used between late Antiquity and the early Renaissance. Participants developed their skill in reading these scripts through daily out-of-class transcription exercises; these exercises incorporated a significant emphasis on abbreviations and their accurate expansion. The syllabus included at least one session each week devoted to the study of the structure of a major genre of manuscript, including Apocalypse commentaries (in particular, the illustrated Beatus manuscripts), Insular Gospel Books, Bibles moralisées, Books of Hours, and maps.

All participants found that the opportunity to focus single-mindedly on manuscript studies for a full month greatly increased their progress in this demanding discipline. Out-of-state participants were housed in campus accommodations, enjoying the opportunity to interact with one another; most chose to spend their entire day on manuscript studies, with a consequent acceleration in their rate of progress. Extracurricular activities included an opening week barbecue at the home of Timothy and Marian Graham; an Albuquerque Isotopes baseball game; a dinner hosted by participant Adriana Roberson at her home in Rio Rancho; and a closing luncheon at Scalo's Northern Italian Grill. During class sessions, participants enjoyed a cake baked by Ms. Roberson and decorated with designs based on those in the tenth-century Beatus of Valladolid; Italy's victory in the World Cup was celebrated with a cake supplied by Amelia Ippoliti.

The Committee on Centers and Regional Associations of the Medieval Academy of America offered scholarships covering the full costs of tuition to two participants who were members of the Academy. The scholarship winners were Micah Erwin, a Master's student at WMU, and Stephen McCormick, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oregon. The Institute for Medieval Studies awarded two additional scholarships worth $250 each to Kristen Lawson of the University of Arizona and George Neal of the University of North Texas. Following the success of this initial seminar, the University of New Mexico will offer "Paleography and Codicology" every second summer; the next seminar is scheduled for July 2008.

(Photographs below are courtesy of Eva Lipton.)

Timothy Graham discusses a binding frame

Timothy Graham discusses a binding frame.

A View of the Class at work

The scribes hard at work.

A celebratory dinner.

Adriana Roberson's Beatus cake.

Marisa Sikes, Patricia Amato, Timothy Graham.