Manuscript Studies

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Medieval Studies
Welcome to the open access issues of Manuscript Studies: A Journal of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press! Articles and Annotations are openly available on ScholarlyCommons one year after publication. Manuscript Studies embraces the full complexity of global manuscript studies in the digital age. It has been conceived with four main goals in mind. First, to bridge the gaps between material and digital manuscript research; second, to break down the walls which often separate print and digital publication and serve as barriers between academics, professionals in the cultural heritage field, and citizen scholars; third, to serve as a forum for scholarship encompassing pre-modern manuscripts cultures from around the world; and finally to showcase methods and techniques of analysis in manuscript studies that can be applied across different subject areas. For more information about Manuscript Studies and to subscribe, visit the Penn Press website for Manuscript Studies
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Now showing 1 - 10 of 109
  • Publication
    Multispectral Recovery of a Fragment of Richard FitzRalph’s Summa de Questionibus Armenorum from University of Rochester, D.460 1000-03
    (2020-10-26) Huskin, Kyle Ann; Zawacki, Alexander J.; Heyworth, Gregory
    Multispectral imaging—the process of obtaining image data from a range of both visible and invisible wavelengths—is a new frontier in medieval studies, raising the possibility of recovering damaged or palimpsested texts that have been illegible for centuries. In this paper we show the remarkable results of applying this technology to University of X, MS D.460 1000-003, a previously unidentified single-folio fragment that was gifted to the university in 1968. Formerly used as a limp vellum binding for a seventeenth-century volume, the text has become so worn that it is all but completely unreadable to the naked eye. The fragment has consequently received little scholarly attention prior to our investigation. Our team recovered nearly all of the lost text and identified the fragment as an excerpt from Richard FitzRalph’s Summa de Questionibus Armenorum. Although this text survives in 45 other manuscripts and fragments, our discovery is highly significant because the Rochester fragment is the only copy of any of FitzRalph’s works in a non-European collection. Moreover, the fragment, whose handwriting dates to no later than 1370, may be the oldest extant copy of the Summa by at least half a decade. We present the process of this discovery, our conclusions about the text, and the potential for multispectral imaging to unlock new information hidden in known but understudied fragments held in archival collections around the world.
  • Publication
    “My Written Books of Surgery in the Englishe Tonge”: The London Company of Barber-Surgeons and the Lylye of Medicynes
    (2019-01-08) Connelly, Erin
    The Middle English Lylye of Medicynes is an early fifteenth-century translation of Bernard of Gordon’s Latin Lilium medicinae (completed in 1305). The Lylye is contained in Oxford Bodleian Library MS. Ashmole 1505 as a sole text. Although there are many extant witnesses in Latin, there are no other known Middle English copies. The Lylye contains thousands of medicinal ingredients, including 360 individual recipes identified with Rx, with accompanying guidelines for diagnosis and prognosis. Although the text does contain some medical theory and etiology (based on thought from Arabic medicine, specifically Ibn Sīnā, and Antiquity, predominantly Galen and Hippocrates), its main feature is the large volume of medicinal recipes. It is thought to have been commissioned by Robert Broke, ‘master of the king’s stillatories,’ in the early fifteenth century during the reign of Henry VI. This article explores the later provenance of the Lylye amongst the Gale family of barber-surgeons in sixteenth-century London.
  • Publication
    History from the Margins: Literary Culture and Manuscript Production in Western India in the Vernacular Millennium
    (2022-10-24) Chanchani, Jahnabi Barooah
    Scholars of South Asia have long known of praśastis, eulogistic verses often composed in the transregional Sanskrit language on copperplates, stone slabs, and temple walls, from the early centuries of the Common Era. They have traditionally sieved these documents to recover dynastic histories and have supposed that as a genre, it faded away in the second millennium CE when Islamic polities were established across the subcontinent and new genres of history writing were popularized. In making this supposition they have overlooked the fact that praśastis continued to be frequently composed and written. Yet, their appearance was neither in public spaces nor in public documents, but frequently at the ends of palm-leaf and paper manuscripts. In this paper, I carefully analyze a corpus of hitherto un-translated praśastis and other scribal remarks written at the end of oft illustrated sumptuous Jaina manuscripts prepared between c. 1000 –1600 in western India. This was a period during which manuscript culture and literary production burgeoned in the region. Through my close reading of these genealogical micro histories, I shed new light on the emergence of new power elites, literati associations, centers of manuscript production, the rise of professional authors and scribes, and formation of kinship. I also consider the aesthetics and poetics of patronage in the region and ask why patrons in the early centuries of the second millennium CE sought to legitimize their family histories using an archaic genre.
  • Publication
    In the Orbit of the Sphere: Sacrobosco’s De Sphaera Mundi in UPenn MS Codex 1881
    (2021-04-20) Malcolm, Aylin
    Johannes de Sacrobosco’s De sphaera mundi was the most popular astronomical text in Europe from the late thirteenth century to the late seventeenth, and a core component of the university curriculum. This essay is the first published study of a remarkable copy of De sphaera in a manuscript recently acquired by the University of Pennsylvania (MS Codex 1881), which includes an unedited commentary on De sphaera and a variety of diagrams. I begin by addressing the textual relationships between this codex and other fifteenth-century copies of the main text and commentary, including both manuscripts and incunables. I then evaluate its diagrams, which would have assisted readers in visualizing and memorizing topics introduced in the main text, and which range from simple geometrical volvelles to a compendious climata diagram. To conclude, I consider what MS Codex 1881 might offer twenty-first-century audiences, including my initial work on digital editions of its diagrams. As a useful case study for both research and teaching, this manuscript will likely benefit several areas of inquiry in medieval and early modern studies, including the history of science and the history of education.
  • Publication
    Spectral Imaging Methods Applied to the Syriac Galen Palimpsest
    (2019-05-09) Easton, Roger L.; Knox, Keith T.; Christens-Barry, William A.; Boydston, Ken
    The spectral imaging techniques applied to the so-called “Syriac Galen palimpsest” in 2008-2010 are reported, including examples of results obtained. The imaging methods were adapted from those used on the Archimedes palimpsest during prior years, and are now comparatively elementary relative to methods that have been developed since. These recent advances will be outlined to demonstrate why improvements would be expected in newer imaging collections and processing.
  • Publication
    The Intricacies of Capturing the Holdings of a Mosque Library in Yemen: The Library of the Shrine of Imām al-Hādī, Ṣaʿda
    (2019-05-09) Schmidtke, Sabine
    This article discusses the "The Zaydi Manuscript Tradition (ZMT)" initiative. The initiative aims to salvage the Zaydi literary tradition by gathering digital surrogates of as many Zaydi manuscripts as possible in a single repository and providing comprehensive and systematic open access to them for scholars worldwide, regardless of whether the physical manuscripts are preserved in Europe or in North America, in Yemen or elsewhere in the Middle East. The ZMT is a joint project initiated by the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton, in partnership with the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Work on the ZMT began in September 2016 and to date the project comprises some 1,000 digitized manuscripts from several European and Yemeni libraries which are accessible online through the project's Portal and HMML's virtual reading room.
  • Publication
    Litterae Florissae in English Manuscripts in the Late Twelfth/Early Thirteenth Century
    (2021-04-20) Charles, Sara J.
    This article examines a group of manuscripts produced in England in the late twelfth/early thirteenth century and compares their artistic penwork, particularly looking at litterae florissae and linefillers. Some of these manuscripts have already been linked by their decorated initials, and were thought to be produced in a workshop in Oxford. By looking closely at the style of flourished letters, it was possible to identify a precise standard of creating letterforms, further linking these manuscripts to one production centre in Oxford. English litterae florissae and linefiller styles have not received much academic analysis to date, but finding similarities between letter styles has the potential to provide further identification for manuscript production andworkshop standards.
  • Publication
    Of Scribes and Scripts: Citizen Science and the Cairo Genizah
    (2019-05-09) Eckstein, Laura Newman
    In August 2017, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, in partnership with the Princeton Geniza Project, the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Genizah Research Unit at Cambridge University, and the Zooniverse, began the first phase of a larger project to attempt to sort and transcribe Cairo Geniza fragments, entitled “Scribes of the Cairo Geniza.” This article describes the first phase of the projects and its results.
  • Publication
    The Glossa Ordinaria Manuscripts of the Biblioteca Capitolare of Monza
    (2019-01-08) Matter, E. Ann
    The Historia de los Reyes Moros de Granada, written by the chronicler Hernando de Baeza in the first half of the XVI century, in Spain, is a valuable text that provides a very different perspective from other late medieval Spanish official chronicles. This article provides an account of the discovery of a previously unknown manuscript of this chronicle which, unlike the two others already known, is complete and includes the ending, which narrates the negotiations between the Catholic Kings of Spain and the last Nasrid sultan Boabdil for the Islamic surrender of Granada. The article describes this previously unknown manuscript, gives an account of the importance of the codex in which it is found, and shows the importance of this discovery for Spanish historiography more generally. A complete transcription in Castillian and an English translation are provided.
  • Publication
    The Galen Palimpsest and the Modest Ambitions of the Digital Data Set
    (2019-05-09) Emery, Doug
    The digital Syriac Galen Palimpsest (SGP) data set is an archive built on the model of the digital Archimedes Palimpsest. As with Archimedes, the SGP data set is meant to promote the long-term preservation of and access to the digitized palimpsest. The SGP data set follows archiving best practices and uses the Archimedes Palimpsest Metadata Standard for spectral imaging metadata. The data is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (CC BY 3.0). The SGP project used custom software to manage its data and metadata from the time of capture to final data set publication. In the years since initial publication, newly discovered leaves of the manuscript have been discovered, imaged, and added to the on-line archive. Since the publication of the SGP data set, subsequent projects have built on and refined the methods established by the SGP team by moving away from content-based file naming, establishing formal quality assurance practices, increasing automation in the creation and management of data and metadata, and including full bit-depth capture images in the digital product.