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

SIMS Previous Visiting Research Fellows


Stefano Dall’Aglio, The University of Edinburgh (November 2017)

Preachers’ Lost Voice: The Roman Inquisition and Oral Sermons in Early Modern Italy

Using the manuscript collections of the Henry Charles Lea Library (Inquisition Collection, MS Coll 729), this project will support my ongoing research on Italian preachers and the Roman Inquisition in the broader context of the work I am doing for my book Reading the Preacher’s Voice, which focuses on the orality of early modern Italian preachers and on the relationship between their spoken and written words. By means of Inquisition sources and other sources, I am analyzing and comparing the various written traces that survive for spoken sermons, and I am demonstrating that it is not impossible to reconstruct a great deal of early modern orality. I also aim to challenge the widespread assumption that a sermon coincides with its printed version. I am very interested in exploring the reasons for the differences between orality and writing in terms of content, language and reception.

Toby Burrows, University of Oxford and University of Western Australia (May 2018)

Manuscripts of Sir Thomas Phillipps in Philadelphia

My research focuses on the 19th-century English collector Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), and the fate of his vast and important collection of more than 40,000 manuscripts. At least 200 of these are now in Philadelphia, most of them in the University of Pennsylvania Library. During my SIMS Fellowship, I will be studying these Phillipps manuscripts to reconstruct their history and provenance. My work will be recorded in my own database of Phillipps manuscripts, in the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, and in the relevant library catalogues. I will be making a particular study of his Persian and Indian manuscripts, since there are three of these in the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, and this aspect of Phillipps’s collecting has never been studied.

Jack Hartnell, University of East Anglia (June 2018)

The Mathematics of Everyday Life: Calculation, Illustration, and Social Formation

This project proposes to examine the mathematical world of late medieval and early renaissance Europe through the lens of the Schoenberg Institute’s MS LJS 27, a rare surviving algebraic manual. The project aims to think historically and historiographically about LJS 27, considering both the manuscript’s extremely unusual illustrated contents and the place of mathematical objects like it within the discipline of art history.


Aleksandra Bunčić, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (October 2016)

Illuminating the Skies: Jews, Science and an Astronomical Anthology (LJS 57) in Medieval Catalonia

This project explores the dissemination of scientific knowledge in medieval Spain through the lens of an extraordinary illuminated manuscript that is housed at the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies and catalogued as an astronomical anthology (LJS 57). Produced in the second half of the fourteenth century (c. 1361) in Catalonia, in Hebrew, this manuscript contains a collection of astronomical texts, a copy of a treatise on the calendar compiled for King Pedro IV of Aragon, works by the twelfth-century scientist Abraham Ibn Ezra, an introduction to astrology, and a Hebrew translation of Ptolemy’s Almagest. By considering this manuscript’s art historical, cultural and local contexts, this project aims to shed light on developments in book production, astronomical iconography, and the identities and roles of Jewish scientists in late medieval Spain.

Justine Walden, University of Toronto (May 2017)

Europe’s Roots: Religious Others in Late Medieval Christian Europe

This project will complete the conversion of 19th-century Florentine manuscript catalogs containing many hundreds of descriptions of medieval and renaissance manuscripts into digitally manipulable records, and will interface these records with the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts. As these records are elsewhere uncatalogued, the project will vastly expand knowledge of and access to important manuscripts that span the gamut of scholarly disciplines. My project will also apply bibliometric and traditional humanistic analysis to these records to gain a clearer portrait of the book- and thought- world of fifteenth- century Florence, particularly as it relates to questions of linguistic and religious diversity and evidence of hostility toward religious ‘others’.


Tekla Bude, Newnham College, Cambridge University (August 2015)

Mathematical Theologies : Rethinking Mathematical Pedagogy in Europe 1100-1500

Dr. Bude’s project considers the ways in which medieval mathematical thought found its way into devotional, theological, and philosophical texts from 1200-1500, and argues that we can better understand not only medieval mathematics, but also the origins of Renaissance and Enlightenment mathematics, if we recognize the importance of the medieval theological-mathematical ideas which influenced the work of Descartes, Newton, and Leibniz. Dr. Bude will focus her research on manuscripts from the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, including 13th-century copies of Johannes de Sacrobosco’s Algorismus and Tractatum de sphaera (UPenn LJS 26), a 14th-century copy of Alexander de Villa Dei’s Algorismus (UPenn LJS 462) and William of Conches, Philosophia mundi (LJS 384) among many other texts.

Angelo Piacentini, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan (January 2016)

Italian Humanistic Manuscripts in the University of Pennsylvania Libraries

Dr. Piacentini’s project focuses on the codicological analysis of two important manuscript witnesses of Italian humanistic texts manuscripts in the University of Pennsylvania Libraries: UPenn LJS 267, an anthology of humanistic texts copied in 1409; and UPenn MS Codex 693, which contains one of the three witnesses of the Moralis philosophie dyalogus by the humanist Uberto Decembrio (ca. 1360-1427). UPenn LJS 267 is the only witness of four letters and a Latin oration by Donato Albanzani, a humanist from Ravenna, and contains a copy of the anonymous Lamentatio Medee, of which Dr. Piacentini is preparing a critical edition.

Jeffrey C. Witt, Loyola University Maryland (May 2016)

The Abbreviatio of William of Rothwell: Integrating UPenn MS Codex 686 into the Sentences Commentary Text Archive and SCTA Image Viewer

As a SIMS fellow, Dr. Witt will examine manuscripts in Penn Libraries’ collections that are in some way connected to the medieval tradition of commenting on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. He will focus on UPenn MS Codex 686 which contains a witness to William of Rothwell’s commentary, which itself is an abbreviation of a commentary by Peter of Tarantaise, later Pope Innocent V. In the course of his study, he will encode the structural divisions of this text and map them to the folio divisions within MS Codex 686 and will make a selection of TEI encoded transcriptions of the contents of the manuscript. These encoding practices will make it possible to enter MS Codex 686 and the Rothwell commentary into the Sentences Commentary Text Archive <;. This inclusion will then allow MS Codex 686 to be viewed on the web alongside sister witnesses deposited on other images servers throughout the world. Moreover, thoughtful encoding of the text itself will permit the mapping of connections between the commentary of Peter of Tarantaise and the abbreviation made by William of Rothwell. For the first time, readers will be able to explore the connections between these two texts and their historical witnesses as they read them on the web.