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How to research medieval books? (5 ECTS)

Medieval books are objects which can be studied for all kinds of angles into the Middle Ages. Of course, they can be explored for their content, but their materiality offers so many more footholds to interpret medieval cultures of reading, writing, learning, practicing religion, law or medicine, etcetera. In this course, 4 teachers will take you to different periods and different collections of medieval manuscripts and take you on an exploration of their research potential. In each session you will learn about new research that is taking place, and there will be a hands-on element: see material with your own eyes and discuss it. You will also be given an assignment to work with one manuscript that fits into your own research topic. In the last session, the students are asked to present their work in a symposium.


Prof. Dr Sabrina Corbellini (Groningen): s.corbellini@rug.nl 
Dr Irene O’Daly (Leiden): i.odaly@hum.leidenuniv.nl
Prof. Dr Irene van Renswoude (Amsterdam): i.vanrenswoude@uva.nl
Prof. Dr M. Teeuwen (Leiden): m.j.teeuwen@hum.leidenuniv.nl (coordinator)

Learning objectives

The students will be introduced to medieval books from the early to the late Middle Ages and to several collections of medieval manuscripts. They will learn to use the materiality of the books themselves to formulate research questions of a cultural historical nature: what do the books tell us about cultures of reading, cultures of knowledge, questions on the authority of texts, cultures of debate?


Each student will choose one medieval manuscript as the focal point of their own research. They will write a paper about this manuscript, using the theoretical framework described above: how does the materiality of the manuscript help in understanding the historical, cultural or literary questions that are part of the research problem? In the final meeting, each student will present their own case study. Both the paper and the presentation will be graded in order to acquire the 5 ECTS.


12 April, 14.00-17.00: Mariken Teeuwen (Leiden)

26 April, 14.00-17.00: Irene van Renswoude (Amsterdam or Den Haag)

10 May, 14.00-17.00: Irene O’Daly (Leiden)

24 May, 14.00-17.00: Sabrina Corbellini (Groningen)

31 May, 14.00-17.00: final meeting, t.b.a.


To register, please send an email to: ozsmed@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Maximum number of participants: 15 (level: PhD, but if there are places available, RMa-students can also enroll)

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