2022-2023 SIMS Visiting Research Fellowships

SIMS is pleased to announce the following Visiting Research Fellows for the 2022-2023 academic year:

Riccardo Saccenti, Università degli studi di Bergamo (October 2022)

From Ethics to Philology: The Fortune of Taddeo Alderotti Liber Ethicorum between the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics plays a crucial role in the intellectual history of Latin Europe. Translated into Latin in the mid-twelfth century, it became the major starting point for a philosophical analysis of moral discourse, particularly within scholastic circles of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The impact of the Nicomachean Ethics on medieval culture was not limited, however, to the universities. Already in the 1260s and writing in Italian, Brunetto Latini, Dante’s teacher, further spread the elements of  Aristotelian ethics in the vernacular language in his work Li Livres dou Trésor, which, offered a model for the education of the political elites of his time.

Latini inserted in his text an abridgment of Aristotle’s Ethics, the so-called Summa Alexandrinorum, which was translated from Arabic into Latin by Hermann the German ca. 1240. This short text, probably written in the 4th century, played a major role in providing a comprehensive and effective presentation of the Aristotelian ethics outside the universities. After Latini, the Florentine physician Taddeo Alderotti translated the Summa into Italian under the title Liber ethicorum. This translation became as important as Latini’s Tresor in spreading Aristotelian ethics within the urban culture of Italy. Penn Libraries preserves several copies of the Liber ethicorum, namely three manuscripts and a printed copy: Ms. Codex 273, an Italian manuscript composed before 1356; Ms. Codex 255, containing a version of the text in Venetian vernacular language (1456); Ms. Codex 243 (around 1500); and LJS 325, an edition of the text printed in France in 1568, with the addition of a handwritten collation of the text with another copy of it. Using these three books as a foundation, this project will begin a comprehensive study on the nature and fortune of this text in the European framework between the end of the Middle Ages and the early modern period.

Federico Botana, Institute of English Studies, University of London (November 2022)

The Card Indices of Leo Olschki and Giuseppe Martini and the Manuscript Collection at the University of Pennsylvania

The card indices of the Italian rare book and manuscript dealers Leo S. Olschki (1861- 1940) and Giuseppe Martini (1870-1944) contain a wealth of information about manuscripts that are now to be found in American collections, including that of the University of Pennsylvania. These cards have the potential to shed new light on the movements of particular manuscripts, but also to provide insights into the workings of the rare book trade.

The central aim of this project is to improve our understanding of the provenance history of manuscripts that are now in Philadelphia which passed through the hands of Olschki or Martini. In order to do this I will: create Sources in the Schoenberg Database for each card index and add entries for individual cards; use the cards and local archives to conduct research to identify manuscripts in Philadelphia that passed through the hands of Olschki or Martini and document their provenance; and work towards a digital platform to make available online photographs of cards from bookdealers’ indices

Kathryn Rudy, University of St. Andrews (mid-January – mid-February 2023)

Making the Case for Modular Production of Books of Hours in the 15th Century

From ca. 1390 until ca.1520, makers of books of hours moved increasingly toward a production method I call “modular” in which textual units were made separately, sometimes by separate people, and only brought together in the final stage of binding. Adopting this system implies a separation of labor, whereby illuminators worked in separate ateliers from copyists. Other scholars have also written about this trend. I would like to make two further contributions. The first will be to study a selection of books of hours from the collections of Penn Libraries, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Walters Art Museum to consider regional differences in production. These manuscripts were produced in and around Delft, Bruges, and Paris. Using VCEditor, I will approach this study from the perspective of their quire structures. I posit that book makers in these three regions came up with distinct methods to improve efficiency in book production and that they took quite different lessons from the new print technology in the second part of the century.

The second contribution involves modeling an unfinished 15th-century unfinished book of hours from Provence (New York, Morgan Library & Museum, M. 358). Robert Calkins wrote in 1978 a compelling article on M. 358, demonstrating that the bifolia were passed from one craftsperson to the next, who each added their bit: first ruling, then writing, then drawing the marginalia, then gold leaf, then acanthus, and so forth, revealing the stark division of labor within the atelier. I will revisit his article, not to challenge its findings, but to present them in video form for a broad audience, in such a way that the ideas are easier to grasp. My goal here is to combine existing knowledge (Calkins) with new technology (VisCol and video).