Instructor: Professor Marc Saurette

Course Description:

When we say that we “scroll” through a webpage or use the abbreviation “@” as part of an email address, we evoke ghosts of textual cultures flourishing before the rise of printed books. When we skim through a book’s table of contents and its index to read efficiently or we complain about how to punctuate properly we are drawing on medieval textual innovations that remain useful today. Perhaps you’ve wondered what eight-hundred year-old animal skin feels like? Or want to know how to read the handwriting of fourteenth-century scribes or how to decipher the mysteries of binding? From the two complete medieval manuscripts and the dozen of folios at ARC in MacOdrum library, you can learn about all this and more. In the Winter 2018 term, week by week we will decipher the nature and purpose of a liturgical manuscript (likely dating to fifteenth-century Spain) about which nothing is known.

In our weekly seminar, students will explore lost world of medieval textual culture, with an emphasis on practical skills and hands-on learning. By the end of this course students will have the skills:

  • to handle, identify, describe and read medieval manuscripts
  • to find, use and research the growing corpus of digital manuscript collections
  • to use tools for analyzing and presenting digital manuscripts

We may also take field trips to explore hidden medieval collections in Ottawa.

Student success will be measured by the following means:

  1. Participation
  2. Leading seminar discussions
  3. Research presentations
  4. Weekly Reading responses
  5. Final research project

Written assignments will be completed on Carleton’s cuPortfolio program.