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


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THE NEEDHAM CALCULATOR (1.0) and THE FLAVORS OF FIFTEENTH-CENTURY PAPER

We at the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies have created a tool that we hope will be useful to manuscript scholars, art historians, incunabulists, and all those interested in the categories and formats of fifteenth century paper, and the impact they had on the sizes of books and works of art as we see them today. We have called this tool the Needham Calculator because it is dependent upon Paul Needham’s classification of categories of fifteenth-century paper.

Here it is: http://needhamcalculator.net

The dimensions of books and works on paper in the fifteenth century are normally given in millimeters. Many people are not fond of millimeters, and for good reason. They are difficult to visualize in quantity (and they are so small that they come in quantity), and the issue is exacerbated in our digital world, through which reproductions are only seen at their original size by accident. We need to be able to visualize the dimensions of a book, a print or a drawing, because this frames the conditions through which the text is read and the image seen. The simple expedient of using centimeters to one decimal place helps in this regard. But more than this, while measuring in millimeters gives the paper’s current dimensions with useful precision, these dimensions more often than not were determined by the binder of a book, or the framer of an image, in a subsequent century. We need to know – if we can find out – the original size of the item, with the implications that this would have for its use, cost, aesthetics, and connoted meanings: will its large scale impress, for example, or will it instead conjure up the poetry of the miniature? Finally, millimeters are an imposed measure that does nothing to reveal decisions made by scribes, artist, and printers, in the creation of their works. The numbers don’t tell us what options were available to them in choosing the size of their paper, nor which ones they actually chose in specific instances.

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9th Annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age November 17-19, 2016

 

Save the Date! Registration opens at the end of the summer.

Reactions: Medieval/Modern

In partnership with the Rare Book Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Schoenberg Institute of Manuscript Studies (SIMS) at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries is pleased to announce the 9th Annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age. This year’s theme, “Reactions: Medieval/Modern,” gives us space to explore the many and varied ways that people have reacted to, and acted upon, manuscripts from the Middle Ages up to today. Reactions take many forms. They include the manipulation of physical objects through, for example, the marking up of texts, addition of illustrations, the disbinding of books or rebinding of fragments, as well as the manipulation of digital objects, thanks to new technologies involved in digitization, ink and parchment analysis, virtual reconstruction, among many other processes. This symposium will also tackle how popular culture has reacted to manuscripts over time as witnessed by their use and appearance in books, games, and films. Our keynote speaker will be Michelle P. Brown, Professor emerita of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and former Curator of Manuscripts at the British Library.

For more information and a list of speakers, visit the website: http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/lectures/ljs_symposium9.html.


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Workshop: Reading the Material Book, November 17th 3-5pm, Free Library of Philadelphia

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Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis T660, Box 19

The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to sponsor a workshop for faculty and graduate students led by Erik Kwakkel, Associate Professor in medieval manuscript studies at Leiden University, The Netherlands. The workshop will be held in the Rare Books Department, Forth Floor of the Free Library of Philadelphia Parkway Central Library (1901 Vine Street), Thursday, November 17th, 3pm-5pm. Spots are limited and pre-registration is required. Register here.

This workshop focuses on the medieval manuscript as a physical object. It shows how its material features can be made important to researchers that are not primarily interested in the manuscript itself. How may students and faculty in English, French, History and other disciplines benefit from the manuscript beyond the text it holds? What can we get out of the object by reading its physical format? To address these questions the workshop will present ‘real-world’ case studies and use examples from the collections of the Free Library.

The workshop is held in association with the 9th Annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age, Reactions: Medieval/Modern. We hope you will stay after the workshop to attend the Opening Reception and Keynote Address by Michelle Brown, Professor emerita of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London: “From King Athelstan to Game of Thrones: Responses to the Early Manuscript Culture of Britain and Ireland across the Ages.”

Bio

Dr. Erik Kwakkel is Associate Professor in medieval manuscript studies at Leiden University, The Netherlands. Among his publications are articles, book chapters and monographs on a variety of manuscript-related topics. In 2010-2015 he was principal investigator of the research project ‘Turning Over a New Leaf: Manuscript Innovation in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance’. He was the 2014 E.A. Lowe Lecturer in Palaeography at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and in 2015 he was elected as a member of the Comité international de paleographie latine.


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Reactions: Medieval/Modern, a new exhibition at Penn

Reactions:Medieval/ModernIn conjunction with the 9th Annual Schoenberg Symposium of the same theme, Reactions: Medieval/Modern explores the many and varied ways that people have reacted to, and acted upon, manuscripts from the Middle Ages up to today. Reactions take many forms. They include the manipulation of physical objects through, for example, the marking up of texts, addition of illustrations, the disbinding books or rebinding fragments, as well as the manipulation of digital objects, thanks to new technologies involved in digitization, ink and parchment analysis, virtual reconstruction, among many other processes. Both the exhibition and symposium will also tackle how popular culture has reacted to manuscripts over time as witnessed by their use and appearance in books, games, and films.

A full-color illustrated companion volume exploring the themes of the exhibition will be available for purchase in late September. It includes and introduction by Dot Porter, exhibition curator, essays by Bruce Holsinger, Erik Kwakkel, Kathryn M. Rudy, Michael Livingston, Angela Bennett, and an exhibition checklist.


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New attribution for a 14th-century manuscript

LJS 439, p. 17 (detail)

Thanks to “The Arabic original of (ps.) Māshā’allāh’s Liber de orbe:  its date and authorship” (British Journal for the History of Science 48.2 (June 2015), p. 321-352) by Taro Mimura, associate professor at Hiroshima University, Japan, new information is available about LJS 439, formerly cataloged as an unidentified 14th-century cosmological treatise.  Using the digital facsimile of LJS 439, Dr. Mimura was able to identify this manuscript as one of two known copies of the 10th-century Arabic original of the Book on the Configuration of the Orb.  The other copy is Berlin, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Ms. or. oct. 273.  The Arabic work was previously known only through Maimonides’s use of an example from it and through Latin translations.  Dr. Mimura attributes the text to Dunash ibn Tamim, a student of Fatimid court physician and philosopher Isaac Israeli, and he is preparing an edition of the Arabic Liber de orbe based on these two manuscripts.


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Thai Manuscripts Exhibition at Penn

thai_300Congratulations to Susanne Kerekes, our 2015-2016 Graduate Student Fellow, on her newly installed exhibition of some of Penn’s most beautiful, important, and rarely viewed Thai manuscripts, Siamese Sampler: 19th-century Manuscripts of Scripture, Poetry, and Decree!

As the website states: “this exhibition highlights a sampling of the rich variety of Thai manuscripts held in the Penn collection, including one of the most exquisite specimens of an illuminated Thai manuscript—the Abhidhamma Chet Kamphi (Ms. Coll. 990, Item 5). Other religious works in this exhibition include commentary on the Dhammapada, and a Thai translation of some of the Gospels of the Bible. The exhibition also includes three, rare manuscripts, all concertina and written on black khoi: a government treatise; an elementary Thai lesson book; and a volume from the epic poem, Phra ‘Aphai Mani, composed by Sunthorn Phu (1786-1855), a royal poet considered the Shakespeare of Thailand.

And don’t forget to register for the conference, to be held Tuesday, September 6, to learn more about these fascinating materials! http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/siamese_sampler.html