Manuscripts in the Curriculum at Geneseo
Manuscripts in the Curriculum at Geneseo

Manuscripts in the Curriculum at Geneseo

I’m so pleased to be able to say that SUNY Geneseo was one of the colleges chosen to participate in Les Enluminures’ Manuscripts in the Curriculum (MiC) programme. Next semester, our campus will have the stewardship of a group of original medieval manuscripts, including an illuminated bible, a psalter, a book of hours, and more. I’m really looking forward to getting to explore these manuscripts with students—what a fabulous way to get back into the groove of the in-person classroom!

While Geneseo’s Special Collections holds a few individual leaves which were once part of medieval manuscripts, we have no complete volumes in our collection. Participation in the MiC programme will allow Geneseo student’s an unprecedented opportunity to work closely with medieval manuscripts over the course of a full semester. Putting these books into students’ hands will allow them to think about the materiality of books and how that can also provide us with historical information: everything from what the manuscripts are made of, to how they were stitched and bound, to the style of handwriting used, notes jotted in the margins, and more.

My medievalist colleagues and I will be incorporating the MiC manuscripts into our courses next semester. In particular, I’ll be teaching two experiential book history courses structured around the manuscripts themselves:

The History of the Book in Medieval Europe (HIST 240)

An introduction to the medieval manuscript book in its social and historical context. Students will explore how books were made and used in an age before the printing press, and how medieval manuscripts can provide us today with clues about manuscript makers, book readers, and their world.

The Book and Book Cultures in Medieval Europe (HIST 440)

A study of the history and historiography of books, book production, and reading culture during the European Middle Ages. We will explore books as artefacts, as transmitters of knowledge and literary creativity, and as cultural symbols, together their place within memory institutions such as libraries, archives, and museums.

Both courses will include practical, hands-on experience with the manuscripts, and of course both will count towards Geneseo’s interdisciplinary Medieval Studies Minor. I welcome questions from Geneseo students who are interested in either course or in learning more about the Medieval Studies Minor.

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