Aylin Malcolm, University of Pennsylvania (January-June 2019)
Aylin Malcolm, a PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Pennsylvania, will conduct research on UPenn Ms. Codex 1881, an astronomical anthology from fifteenth-century Germany recently acquired by the Kislak Center. This project supplements her planned dissertation research, which will consider exchanges between literary texts and works of natural science in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In particular, Ms. Codex 1881 contains annotated copies of the anonymous Theorica planetarum and Johannes de Sacrobosco’s Tractatus de sphaera, two of the most widely disseminated astronomical texts in late medieval Europe. These texts influenced many scholars within this period; for example, Georg von Peuerbach’s 1454 Theoricae novae planetarum was essentially an updated version of the Theorica planetarum. Yet Sacrobosco was also popular among amateurs, including some writers such as Geoffrey Chaucer. Modern scholars such as John North have noted that Part I of Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe draws on Sacrobosco’s text, suggesting that the astronomical references in his poetry (e.g The Man of Law’s Tale) may also have been inspired by De sphaera, and revealing the need for research that compares these literary and scientific traditions.
Emily Shartrand, University of Delaware
Over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year, SIMS Graduate Student Fellow Emily Shartrand will be working on a case study of the roughly 2,300 fragments of Western Medieval manuscripts collected by John Frederick Lewis of Philadelphia and now housed at the Free Library of Philadelphia. These fragments are comprised of full leaves, cuttings, and former binding waste with sister pages found in a number of other libraries across the United States and Europe. Even in their incomplete state, Lewis recognized the value of these objects and consequently they represent what is likely the largest deliberately collected body of medieval manuscript fragments in the world.
As part of this project, the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies is partnering with Fragmentarium, an international digital research lab for medieval manuscript fragments. Officially launched in St. Gall, Switzerland, on September 1st 2017, the Fragmentarium platform, link below, enables libraries, collectors, researchers and students to publish medieval manuscript fragments, allowing them to catalogue, describe, transcribe, assemble and re-use them online. Emily will be working closely with SIMS Curator of Manuscripts Dr. Nicholas Herman to upload these objects to the Fragmentarium platform and strive to reunite them with their sister leaves and host volumes.
Daniel Mackey, University of Pennsylvania
Digitally Documenting the Renaissance Reception of Aristotle’s De Anima Using TEI/XML: Encoding Texts and Their Metadata
The Renaissance reception of Aristotle’s works, especially the De Anima, is a fascinating and understudied topic. Several Renaissance De Anima commentaries are housed in in the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts’ collections, including the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies’ collection, many of which have yet to be explored and subjected to scholarly scrutiny. Using TEI/XML this project will seek to digitally transcribe and document sections of two of Penn’s Renaissance De Anima commentaries as well as their metadata, specifically: Ms. Codex 855 (attributed to one Placidus Aegidius Melander and the only known witness), and Ms. Codex 769 (anonymously attributed). The project will also include an in house exhibition, to be installed in the Synder-Granader Alcove gallery in the fall of 2017, which will feature texts from Penn’s special collections that can attest to the wide-reaching influence of the works of the man famously referred to throughout history as “The Philosopher.” By using TEI/XML as a transcription and encoding medium, this project will seek to establish four goals: First, to produce diplomatic and critical transcriptions of sections from both codices; Second, to encode the texts in such a way so as to be easily incorporated into the larger corpus of online texts; Third, to publish the transcriptions at LombardPress.org., and Fourth, to tag names, references, and quotations so they can be easily searched and linked with instances of the same in other De Anima commentaries.
Ultimately this research seeks to examine the relationship between the Renaissance reception of the De Anima and the earlier Scholastic tradition surrounding it. The specific research question at issue here is how did Renaissance and early modern commentators interpret Aristotle’s De Anima and to what extent do these interpretations stand in line with or depart from the preceding tradition of Scholastic commentaries on the De Anima.
Susanne Kerekes, University of Pennsylvania
Horoscopes, Epic Poetry, and Grammar: Documenting the 19th-century Thai manuscripts of a University of Pennsylvania alumnus and American missionary, William Samuel Waithman Ruschenberger
William Samuel Waithman Ruschenberger – a University of Pennsylvania alumnus – made US history in 1838 with the publication of his travel diary. The diary details events leading up to the signing of the US’s first-ever treaty with an Asian nation. Only one year after receiving his doctorate in 1880, Ruschenberger was commissioned as a surgeon for the US Navy, and assigned to accompany diplomat Edmund Roberts on the USS Peacock in 1835. Roberts died of dysentery on the journey home, leaving Ruschenberger solely responsible for documenting the remaining events of the mission, as well as posthumously publishing Roberts’ diary. Thus, while it was Roberts who was sent by President Andrew Jackson to secure the aforementioned treaty with Siam (present-day Thailand), it was Ruschenberger who made the accounts of the mission known.
Among the roughly fifty Thai manuscripts in the Penn Libraries’ collection, one is from Ruschenberger. The manuscript is made of mulberry paper, formatted in concertina style, and is 31-folios long on both sides. Although the manuscript is void of text and illustrations (save for a hand-written colophon in ink by Ruschenberger), it is rare evidence of a 19th-century Thai manuscript before its use by a scribe. Thus, it provides a unique opportunity to examine the materiality of a Thai manuscript without textual or pictorial mark-up. Looking at this manuscript against the backdrop of five other more complete Thai manuscripts, this project will take the opportunity to explore the material and conceptual construction of Thai manuscripts through a process of physical analysis and translation. The project will result in online translations of several of the texts in these manuscripts, available for the first time, and a short film documentary on these manuscripts that will showcase the richness of the Thai manuscript tradition while also highlighting a history of some early collectors of Thai manuscripts.