The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at Penn brings manuscript culture, modern technology and people together.


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Sacred Texts: Codices Far, Far Away – Episode 14, Ms. Codex 1065

On October 8, 2018, Dr. Brandon Hawk and curator Dot Porter met to talk about these ancient books, and to compare them with manuscripts from the collection of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania. This series is a record of those discussions.

Ms. Codex 1065

Since we’ve been looking at bindings, we thought we would take a look at a manuscript that has no binding. MS Codex 1065 is a mid-13th century Latin Vulgate Bible written in England. When the manuscript came to Penn it was in a binding from the early 19th century – it was very common for book collectors to rebind their collections in the 19th century – but it was is such poor condition that it was eventually removed. The book hasn’t been rebound, which makes it difficult to use, but makes it easier to see the quire structure.

Online record and digital images of LJS 459: http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017/d/medren/9931765253503681

Phil Szostak, The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (https://www.amazon.com/Art-Star-Wars-Last-Jedi/dp/1419727052/)

Images of the “Tree Library” by Seth Engstrom & Rodolfo Damaggio

Mock-ups for six pages from the Jedi books by Chris Kitisakkul

Screenshots from the film and images from The Art of Star Wars are used under the Fair Use doctrine described in Section 107 of the Copyright Act (https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107)


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Stars on the Small Screen: Creating Digital Editions of Penn’s Astronomical Manuscripts

by Aylin Malcolm

The first time that I handled medieval manuscripts was nearly the last time. It was the final semester of my undergraduate degree, and my Middle English class was visiting Rare Books. After viewing a selection of Islamic and of Christian manuscripts, we concluded the class by passing a hefty facsimile of the Rothschild Miscellany around the room. Just as I was handed the facsimile, my professor announced that it had cost over $10 000, and I nearly dropped it in shock. It was probably for the best that I did not learn the value of original manuscript codices until I was a graduate student.

The Rothschild Miscellany (Jerusalem, Israel Museum MS 180/51).

The wonder that I felt that day, both at the manuscripts (and facsimiles) themselves and at being permitted to touch such precious objects, highlights one of the dilemmas of this field, which we might frame as a conflict between the present and past uses of manuscripts. Today, premodern manuscripts are valuable, irreplaceable objects, and every opportunity to handle them must be weighed against the risk of degradation. Yet while some manuscripts were created for display purposes, many others were designed to be annotated and manipulated by generations of readers. Understanding these objects often requires us to engage with them in the personal, tactile ways that their creators intended, a privilege generally reserved for those with institutional access and specialized training.

The recent proliferation of manuscript images and metadata has therefore both raised questions and created opportunities for new types of work. Digital facsimiles cannot replicate the experience of viewing original manuscripts, nor fully capture their smells, sizes, or textures. Yet digital resources can prompt us to ask new kinds of questions before we settle down with the objects themselves, and can allow for more extensive research on texts too brittle for frequent viewing. Moreover, digital tools can offer us new ways of combining and annotating manuscripts. Examples include the Fragmentarium project and the Mirador viewer, both of which allow users to assemble and compare manuscripts from different repositories.

Inspired by resources like these, I set out this summer to create two digital tools based on late medieval manuscripts in the Kislak Center’s collections. The first, a series of interactive diagrams from a copy of Johannes de Sacrobosco’s De sphaera mundi (MS Codex 1881, fols. 15r-36v), is designed for students and specialists who are interested in premodern astronomy and scientific illustrations. The second project, an edition of an astronomical miscellany (LJS 445) that is intended for a broader audience, places the emphasis on how readers through the centuries altered this manuscript by annotating, cutting, and rebinding its pages.

UPenn LJS 445, endpaper stub and fol. 1r.

As Nicholas Herman writes in his Manuscript Monday blog post, MS Codex 1881 contains several Latin texts that were central to the basic astronomy curriculum of later medieval Europe. These include the Theorica planetarum attributed to Gerard of Cremona and Johannes de Sacrobosco’s De sphaera mundi, both of which had appeared in print before this manuscript was copied. Yet the most striking feature of MS Codex 1881 may be its numerous, intricate, and text-heavy images, such as its fascinating diagram of the seven climes.


Climata diagram from fol. 33v of MS Codex 1881.

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Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 31/52 Denis Faucher, manuscript additions to Hendrik Herp, Speculum perfectionis (Mirror of Perfection), Venice: Sabio, 1524; University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Codex 1620, fols. 1v, miniature of a Nun on a Cross, and 3r, miniature of the Mememto mori, both by Denis Faucher, after 1524 As we approach…

via Question of the Week: “What will you do when he comes at you with the sickle?” — Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis


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Sacred Texts: Codices Far, Far Away – Episode 13, Ms. Codex 828

On October 8, 2018, Dr. Brandon Hawk and curator Dot Porter met to talk about these ancient books, and to compare them with manuscripts from the collection of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania. This series is a record of those discussions.

Ms. Codex 828

In this video we talk about the binding of Ms Codex 828, a 15th century Italian philosophical manuscript. The leather that originally covered the spine has been lost, so we can see the binding structure very well. We compare it with the binding practices illustrated by LJS 102 – the Ethopian manuscript we looked at in Episode 3 and Episode 10 – and by those of the Jedi manuscripts.

Online record and digital images of LJS 459: http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017/d/medren/9931765253503681

Phil Szostak, The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (https://www.amazon.com/Art-Star-Wars-Last-Jedi/dp/1419727052/)

Images of the “Tree Library” by Seth Engstrom & Rodolfo Damaggio

Mock-ups for six pages from the Jedi books by Chris Kitisakkul

Screenshots from the film and images from The Art of Star Wars are used under the Fair Use doctrine described in Section 107 of the Copyright Act (https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107)


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Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 30/52 Book of Hours, Use of Bourges, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 87, fols. 6v–7r (end of Calendar and beginning of Gospel Lessons) Sometimes, scholars can become fixated on a dated inscription in a manuscript, which can lead them to ignore other chronological evidence. In…

via A Book of Hours Fifty Years Older than Previously Thought — Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis

 


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Sacred Texts: Codices Far, Far Away – Episode 12, LJS 459

On October 8, 2018, Dr. Brandon Hawk and curator Dot Porter met to talk about these ancient books, and to compare them with manuscripts from the collection of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania. This series is a record of those discussions.

LJS 459: popular treatise in Arabic

In this video we look at LJS 459, a 12th century treatise presented as a letter from Aristotle to Alexander the Great on statecraft, astronomy, astrology, magic, and medicine, called the Secretum secretorum in Latin. It was a popular work in the Middle East and the West throughout the middle ages, although it was most certainly not written by Aristotle. We compare some of the textual elements in this manuscript – the layout on a page where the names of planets are written, along with some colorful illuminated headings – to textual decoration and layout in the Jedi manuscripts.

Online record and digital images of LJS 459: http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017/d/medren/9958033443503681

Phil Szostak, The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (https://www.amazon.com/Art-Star-Wars-Last-Jedi/dp/1419727052/)

Images of the “Tree Library” by Seth Engstrom & Rodolfo Damaggio

Mock-ups for six pages from the Jedi books by Chris Kitisakkul

Screenshots from the film and images from The Art of Star Wars are used under the Fair Use doctrine described in Section 107 of the Copyright Act (https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107)


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Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 29/52 Prayer Book, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 207, fol. 2r (miniature of the Annunciation) Up to this point, many of this blog’s posts have dealt with Books of Hours, those ubiquitous devotional tools of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. This week, we are…

via Italian with a French Accent: A Prayer Book Made in Occupied Milan? — Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis