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Manuscripts in the Curriculum

Program Description

For anyone studying the Middle Ages, there is no substitute for hands-on experience of actual medieval manuscripts.  Our way of making this happen is a unique and innovative program, “Manuscripts in the Curriculum,” which lends colleges, universities, and other educational institutions in North America a group of manuscripts during a segment of the academic year (semester, quarter, or summer session).  Although public display of the manuscripts is encouraged, central to the philosophy of the new program is the integration of real manuscripts into the curriculum in courses where students can work closely with original material under the guidance of a professor. 

“Manuscripts in the Curriculum,” a pilot program, began in January 2017 and concluded with the Fall semester of 2019.  For a glimpse of some of the programming at participating institutions, see below “The Program in Action.”

Manuscripts in the Curriculum II

This pilot program was such a success that we have continued it in a slightly revised form as “Manuscripts in the Curriculum II,” which began in September 2019 and continues through Fall 2022.  A group of nine manuscripts will be available for loan, including seven representative examples of types of medieval books, and two “wild-cards,” chosen by the participating institution (a sample list of manuscript is available on the pdf below).

There is a nominal cost ($5,000) for North American institutions to contribute towards the out-of-pocket expenses of the program (with an additional fee for participating Canadian institutions for international shipping and customs).  The fee covers administration, insurance, shipping, and condition reports.  It is our hope that this program will encourage participating institutions to discover and implement ways that manuscripts can continue to be used creatively in their curricula.

For further information, please contact: lauralight@lesenluminures.com

MANUSCRIPTS IN THE CURRICULUM II

MANUSCRIPTS IN THE CURRICULUM I - THE PROGRAM

SUGGESTIONS FOR TEACHING

THE PROGRAM IN ACTION - UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA

THE PROGRAM IN ACTION - PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY

THE PROGRAM IN ACTION - UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER

THE PROGRAM IN ACTION - ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

THE PROGRAM IN ACTION - IOWA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

THE PROGRAM IN ACTION - WALDO LIBRARY WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY

THE PROGRAM IN ACTION - NEW COLLEGE OF FLORIDA

THE PROGRAM IN ACTION: SUDENTS' POSTERS, NEW COLLEGE OF FLORIDA

THE PROGRAM IN ACTION: ILLUMINATING LIFE, EXHIBITION CATALOGUE, UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH

Psalter

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Southern Germany (diocese of Constance or Augsburg), c. 1240-60

Almost certainly copied for lay use, this German illuminated Psalter includes historiated initials depicting both Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, canonized only decades before the manuscript was produced.  Artistically, it is related to important illuminated south German Psalters now in Liverpool and Schaffhausen.  It is still bound in an early binding (with some restoration), and there are numerous signs of use throughout, including evidence that it was used to teach children to read.  Unusual and intriguing damage to the initials of Francis and Dominic warrants closer attention

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TM 789
at curatorial service

Vulgate Bible

In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
England, c. 1260-1275
10 illuminated foliate initials

Small portable Bibles containing the complete Old and New Testaments were one of the greatest achievements of thirteenth-century book production.   This English example was copied by numerous scribes, and decorated in a number of styles. The ten handsome illuminated initials decorate the Minor Prophets, an unusual choice.  Textual evidence links it to both the Dominicans and Franciscans.  Notable here are the numerous additions that show how this was used, including the contemporary table of introits and Mass lections, and numerous marginal notes from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries.  

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TM 892
at curatorial service

Passio sancti Viti martyris; Historia translationis sancti Viti martyris

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment and paper
Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia (Gladbach or possibly Corvey?), c. 1400-1450 and 1777

This handsome composite manuscript includes two texts discussing the martyrdom of St. Vitus, the Early Christian saint of Sicily and patron saint of dancing, and the movement of his relics.  It was likely copied in part (and possibly in its entirety) at the Benedictine abbey of Gladbach, dedicated to St. Vitus, and it attests to the abbey’s efforts to preserve these narratives that were integral to its own history.  These texts – one of which is a rare copy of the earliest narrative history of the Benedictine abbey of Corvey – are valuable historical sources.

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TM 828
at curatorial service

JEROME,Vita Pauli primi eremitae; Vita Malchi monachi captivi; Vita Hilarioni

In Latin, manuscript on parchment
Northern Italy, c. 1400-1430

Attractively written manuscript in pocket format and with clean wide margins of Saint Jerome’s lives of Paul, Malchus, and Hilarion, writings of considerable narrative charm which exercised an enormous impact on later hagiographic literature and which continued to be widely read throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

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TM 87
at curatorial service

Breviary for the Night Office in Two Volumes (Use of Utrecht)

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
The Netherlands (South Holland), c. 1450-1475

Ideal for display and teaching, the accomplished script, elegant penwork initials, original stamped bindings, and parchment tabs marking key sections are notable features of these two volumes.  Distinctive decoration and liturgical Use firmly place these volumes in mid-fifteenth-century South Holland.  A beautiful example of Dutch book-making, this Breviary was exhibited at the Royal Library in the Netherlands in 1993.

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TM 940
at curatorial service

PSEUDO-AUGUSTINUS, Sermones ad fratres in eremo (Sermons to the Brothers in the Desert); Publius Lentulus, Epistola de forma et statura Jesu Christi ad Senatum romanum (Letter on the form and stature of Jesus Christ to the Roman Senate); sermon by AUGUSTINE

In Latin, manuscript on paper
Northern Italy, 1458

This is an excellent example of a late medieval codex copied by an identified scribe for his personal use.  Its distinctive mercantesca script, lack of decoration, and sturdy original binding set it apart from contemporary humanist manuscripts, whether owner-produced or made by the commercial book trade.  The text, attributed to St. Augustine but certainly a later compilation, was a medieval best seller.  Here we find selections from the pseudo-Augustinian collection combined with other texts, perhaps chosen by the scribe, including an apocryphal account of Christ’s appearance. 

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TM 1013
at curatorial service

Office of the Dead (Use of St. Kunibert, Cologne); Prayers before celebrating Mass; Funeral service; Necrologium (added) 

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
Germany, Cologne, 1487 and 1727 (with later additions)

Large in format, this carefully written and decorated liturgical manuscript from the important church of St. Kunibert in Cologne was used daily by the Canons for the liturgy associated with death and burial. Dated and with a known donor, it is preserved in an elaborate sixteenth-century binding. It also includes an eighteenth-century necrology with names, dates, and burial location, making this an important document both as a record of people associated with the community and for the physical organization of the Church and its altars.

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TM 644
at curatorial service

[ANONYMOUS], Les sept fruits de la tribulation; and [ANONYMOUS], Miroir d’or de l’ame pecheresse, French translation of JACOBUS DE GRUYTRODE (or JACOBUS DE JÜTERBORG), Speculum aureum animae peccatricis

In French, illuminated manuscript on parchment
France, after 1482, c. 1490

Elegant manuscript containing two works of spiritual and moral edification in French translation.  The first text is known in only five extant manuscript and is still unedited.  There is neither a modern critical edition of the second text, nor a complete census of the existing manuscripts; the copy here was apparently made from an incunable edition of c. 1490. This manuscript begins with a remarkable added full-page illuminated frontispiece with the coat of arms and motto of Louis de Grolée (fl. late fifteenth-early sixteenth century), the abbot of Bonnevaux and Saint-Pierre de Vienne.  Louis was the proud owner of exceptional books including volumes once owned by King Louis IX and Jean, Duc de Berry; the story of how he acquired these manuscripts, and his practice of personalizing them with illuminated heraldic compositions, is waiting to be told.

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TM 466
at curatorial service

Book of Hours (Use of Rome)

In Latin and French, imprint on parchment
France (Paris), Anthoine Verard, August 22, 1506. 17 large wood- and metalcuts, 2 smaller (Grail and anatomical man) metalcuts, 28 small wood- and metalcuts within the text (some repeated), and wood- and metalcut borders by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne

Extremely rare imprint, known only in this copy, of an unrecorded Book of Hours printed for the famed Parisian bookseller and publisher, Anthoine Verard.  Verard was known for his luxurious illuminated printed volumes, produced for illustrious patrons including Kings Charles VIII and Louis XII of France, and King Henry VII of England.  This copy is uncolored, allowing the details of the illustrations to be observed.

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TM 1080
at curatorial service
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