A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography


Charles Burnett

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Date of this Version



The A.S.W. Rosenbach Lecturese for 2019: a series of three lectures presented on November 11, 12, and 14, 2019 in the Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

About the lecturer:

Charles Burnett is Professor of the History of Islamic Influences in Europe, The Warburg Institute. Professor Burnett studied for the BA in Classical in Cambridge University (May 1972) and achieved a PhD in Modern and Medieval Languages in the same university in June 1976. Having been a Junior Research Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, 1976-9, and a Senior Research Fellow, Warburg Institute, 1979-82, he was Leverhulme Research Fellow in the Department of History, at the University of Sheffield (1982-4 and 1985), interrupted by a year as Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1984-5). He was appointed Lecturer in the History of Islamic Influences in Europe at the Warburg Institute, University of London, in April 1985, and promoted to Professor in 1999. In 2018 Professor Burnett was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the Warburg Institute.


These lectures draw on evidence from manuscripts in the Schoenberg Collection of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, and they are illustrated by examples from Arabic, Greek and Latin manuscripts and early printed books. The subject matter ranges from mathematics, physics and metaphysics, to medicine, astrology and magic. Attention is paid especially to the words of the translators, glossators and commentators themselves, as they endeavour to work out the most appropriate and clearest way of conveying the subject matter of their texts to their respective audiences.

Lecture 1, Monday, November 11, 2019: Fides Interpres. The different styles and approaches of the medieval translators from Arabic and Greek into Latin; from the literal to the paraphrastic; from the complete work to the epitome; revision and correction; the significance of the audience. View this video on youtube.

Lecture 2, Tuesday, November 12, 2019: Sensus huius litterae est. The varieties in glossing technique; scholia versus readers’ glosses; images as glosses; conversations in the margin; continuities from Greek and Arabic into Latin; the university setting. View this video on youtube.

Lecture 3, Thursday, November 14, 2019: Intentio mea in hoc libro. Long, medium and short commentaries; verse commentaries; commentaries on single books versus summae of several books; the ‘ego’ of the commentator; the scientific textbook. View this video on youtube.

Additional Files

2019 A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography-Charles Burnett-Session I.mp4 (264651 kB)
Lecture 1, video file, mp4 format

2019 A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography-Charles Burnett-Session 2.mp4 (251386 kB)
Lecture 2, video file, mp4 format

2019 A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography-Charles Burnett-Session 3.mp4 (284268 kB)
Lecture 3, video file, mp4 format



Date Posted: 02 January 2023