Conference: Illuminating the Dark Ages Manuscript Art and Knowledge in the Early Medieval World


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Thursday 28th of June

11.00    Reception, talks, and manuscript display at the University Library’s   Centre for Research Collections (CRC). Venue: 5th floor of the Main Library building, George Square.

Welcome by Rachel Hosker, Deputy Head of Special Collections (CRC).

Presentation by Aline Brodin, “From the Scriptorium to the Screen. Exploring medieval manuscripts in the digital age”.

Talks by Giulia Sagliardi, Emma Trivett and Manuel de Zubiria Rueda.

NB. A priori this event is only open to speakers and chairs (additional places will be subject to space availability).

14.00    Lunch break

15.00-15.30    General Registration. Venue: Hunter Building at Edinburgh College of Art (Lauriston Place, Ground floor)

Welcome and initial remarks (Venue: Lecture Theatre, Hunter Building)

15.30-17.00.    Session I. Manuscripts in the Christian East. Chaired by Niels Gaul.

Elijah Hixson (Edinburgh), “The lost miniatures in Codex Sinopensis(Paris, BnF, supplément grec 1286), a sixth-century copy of the Gospel of Matthew”

Ketevan Mamasakhlisi (Tbilisi), “A few theological issues from the teachings of St. Amun”

Courtney Tomaselli (Harvard), “Teach me Good Judgement and Knowledge. King David as Spiritual Father in a Byzantine Book of Psalms”

Irma Mamasakhlisi (Tbilisi), “Healing miracles of Christ from the Gelati Gospels”


17.00-18.00    Keynote I. Dr Felicity Harley-McGowan (Yale).

“Models of Suffering: The Passion miniatures of the St Augustine Gospels and their iconographic sources”

20.00    Conference dinner


Friday 29th of June

Venue: Lecture Theatre, Hunter Building at ECA (Lauriston Place).


10.00-11.15    Session II. The Insular World I. Chaired by Heather Pulliam.

Jane Geddes (Aberdeen), “The earliest portrait of St Columba: his presence at St Gallen”

Christine Kemmerich (Bonn), “The Evangelist symbols in early medieval book illumination: the Book of Durrow in context”

Tina Bawden (Berlin), “Illuminating the elements”

11.30-13.00    Session III. Carolingian Europe and Ottonian Germany. Chaired by Jesús Rodríguez Viejo.

David Ganz (Berlin), “The initials in Berlin Philips 1741”

Ivana Jakovljevic-Lemcool (Belgrade), “Zodiacal imagery in early medieval manuscripts: appropriation and transmission of the Classical motif”

Jean-Louis Walther (Independent, Switzerland), “Les Tituli de la Bible de Moutier-Grandval”

Katharina Theil (Zurich), “Interplay between Figuration and Abstraction, Inside and Outside: The Abstract Goldsmith Cover of the Reichenau Gospels”

13.00    Lunch break


15.00-16.00   Keynote II. Prof. Michele Bacci (Fribourg).

“Dynamics of Artistic Interaction in the Mediterranean World After Antiquity: A Typological Approach”


16.15-17.10    Session IV. The Insular World II. Chaired by Heather Pulliam.

Colleen Curran (Oxford), “Fair words and fairer forms: the poetic function of the illustrations in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Junius 11”

Stephanie McGucken (Edinburgh), “Illuminating the woman in Late Anglo-Saxon England: Images of Femininity and the Female body”

17.15-18.30    Session V. The Iberian Peninsula. Chaired by Jesús Rodríguez Viejo.

Roger Collins (Edinburgh), “The Beatus Problem”

Soledad de Silva y Verástegui (Basque Country), “Bibles, the Beatus Commentary and canonic collections: Three great illustrated manuscripts from tenth-century Hispania”

Jessica Sponsler (Pennsylvania College of A&D), “In the Pure Womb of the River: The Baptism of Christ in the Girona Beatus and theological dilemmas of tenth-century Iberia”

18.30    Concluding remarks and acknowledgments.

Conference: Manuscripts from Ethiopia and Eritrea (Oxford, 1 Sept 2018)

This free study day will act as an introduction to Ethiopian and Eritrean manuscripts  dating from the 4th to 18th centuries. Context, production, and patronage will be discussed by leading experts from institutions such as The British Library and SOAS. See the detailed schedule and link to register below.

Continue reading “Conference: Manuscripts from Ethiopia and Eritrea (Oxford, 1 Sept 2018)”

Workshop: The Iconicity of Script in Manuscripts from  Asia, Africa, America and Europe (Hamburg, 31 October – 1 November 2014)

The Iconicity of Script in Manuscripts from  Asia, Africa, America and Europe
Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Hamburg
31 October -1 November 2014

Scripts and writing systems are more than neutral transmitters of the words that are encoded by them. When words that were previously spoken and transmitted orally are written down, they gain a new, visual and material dimension. The iconic component with which the script can be endowed in this process has a hermeneutic, as well as an aesthetic, potential. Recognising and decoding it is as much part of the process of reading as is the deciphering of the written text. In manuscript cultures all over the world, script is adorned with or transformed by ornamental and figurative elements. The aim of this workshop is to explore how the visual and iconic potential of script has been used in manuscript cultures in Asia, Africa, America, and Europe. Its approach is a comparative one, exploring similarities as well as differences and the possible reasons behind them.

Relevant phenomena include:

The semantic potential of particular styles of scripts and of writing systems.
In many manuscript cultures, scribes and illuminators have a range of different writing styles, and sometimes even different writing systems, at their disposal. These can be used, separately or in combination, for various different purposes. As complex visual patterns, they can encourage or control the way in which a text is read and interpreted. Often, sacred or revered texts are written in a particularly elaborate script, hereby both emphasizing and affirming their outstanding dignity and authority. In other cases, calligraphy can be part of an artistic, philosophical or political statement. On a more (but by no means exclusively) pragmatic level, different scripts can be used to indicate hierarchical relationships between different texts (e.g. a treatise and its commentary) or the structure of a text (e.g. by highlighting chapter breaks) within a manuscript. In some cases, which would be of particular interest to our workshop, calligraphic shapes, techniques and practices are subject to intercultural transfers, by means of quotation, adaptation or assimilation.

Script constituting figures and images
Calligrams, carmina figurate, text ‘labyrinths’ and other instances in which script is arranged in figural shapes, or in which such figures are revealed to the reader in the process of reading a text, are found in many manuscript cultures, and in many different variations. Some of these variations may be due to different writing systems that are current in different manuscript cultures; others, to varying notions of the status of script, of writing and reading within a culture. In some, e.g. Islamic and Jewish cultures that restrict the use of images, script can perform some functions that pictures do in others, perhaps taking on some of the aesthetic and even figurative characteristics that are elsewhere attributed mainly to images.

Figures and bodies constituting script
While figurative forms can be constituted by script, script in turn can also be formed by figurative elements. For instance, so-called anthropomorphic and zoomorphic initials in European manuscripts consist of the painted or drawn bodies of humans and animals, and in Arabic calligraphy, script can bloom and sprout leaves. In other cases, script in a manuscript can be written or painted in a way that conjures up a specific material, such as textile or stone.

Diagrams and schemata consisting of or incorporating script
A different kind of iconicity lies at the heart of diagrams and schemata. Here, too, the written and the figural form an inextricable whole. Their overall visual structure, however, serves first and foremost as a matrix which represents not things or concepts themselves, but relationships of concepts and/or things to one another, making diagrams and schemata unique instruments for transmitting and even generating knowledge.

Hanna Wimmer, Rostislav Tumanov and Lena Sommer

For the full workshop programme, and to register, see here:

Postgraduate Study Course: Textos, libros y lectores: Una introducción a la cultura manuscrita de la Península Ibérica durante la Baja Edad Media (Madrid, 13-17 October 2014)

Postgraduate Study Course:
Textos, libros y lectores: Una introducción a la cultura manuscrita de la Península Ibérica durante la Baja Edad Media
Madrid, 13-17 October 2014
Deadline: 30 September

diptico-textos-libros-lectores-1El objetivo de este curso es ofrecer una introducción al estudio de la cultura manuscrita peninsular durante la Baja Edad Media, en la que tenga cabida la producción libraria latina, hebrea, árabe y romance. Para ello, los diferentes participantes irán tejiendo una panorámica de la compleja realidad ibérica y de las particulares dinámicas que rigen la creación, transmisión y recepción de los manuscritos creados al amparo de estas tradiciones, que en ningún caso han de considerarse compartimentos estancos. Las clases se han planteado a partir de cuatro ejes fundamentales: a) una reflexión sobre los condicionantes impuestos por la circulación manuscrita de los textos y los retos que este fenómeno plantea al historiador/filólogo hoy en día, b) un breve acercamiento a la codicología partiendo de ejemplos concretos, c) cuatro catas puntuales sobre aspectos que singularizan a la producción libraria peninsular frente a otros territorios europeos (la prevalencia del romance frente al latín desde un momento muy temprano, el diálogo multicultural en torno al texto bíblico, la impronta dejada por la poesía andalusí en la lírica peninsular, y el peso de la literatura legal en el conjunto de la producción manuscrita hispánica), y d) una inmersión en el análisis de las relaciones entre texto e imágenes en el soporte manuscrito. De este modo, se pretende dar cuenta de la singular condición del manuscrito en tanto que objeto en la encrucijada entre varias disciplinas.

Organisers: Rosa Rodríguez Porto (University of York) and Javier del Barco (ILC, CCHS-CSIC)

For the full programme and to apply, see: