In honour of Professor emeritus Nigel F. Palmer, the eminent German medievalist, there will be a two day programme of events on medieval German manuscripts and prints hosted by the TORCH Oxford Medieval Studies programme and the Bodleian Libraries.
On Friday, the Oxford Medieval Studies lecture Devotional Culture in Late Medieval Strasbourg is given by Stephen Mossman. This will be followed by drinks to celebrate both the British launch of Nigel Palmer’s latest publication, The Prayer Book of Ursula Begerin – a critical edition, with an art-historical and literary introduction, of an illuminated manuscript made for a Strasbourg laywoman – and his 70th birthday. Everybody welcome but please RSVP to Modern Languages Office email@example.com if you would like to come, to make sure there are enough spaces and wine!
On the following day, a workshop will be held on the topic German Manuscripts and Prints in Oxford in the Lecture Theatre Weston Library, 9:15am-5pm. Again, everybody is welcome but please respond to Henrike Lähnemann firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend.
FRIDAY, 28 OCTOBER, TAYLOR INSTITUTION LECTURE AND RECEPTION
17:00 Stephen Mossman: Devotional Culture in Late Medieval Strasbourg
18:00 Drinks Reception (Room 2)
SATURDAY, 29 OCTOBER, WESTON LIBRARY COLLOQUIUM ‘GERMAN MANUSCRIPTS IN OXFORD’
09:15 Introduction and Welcome: Martin Kauffmann
09:30 Bodleian, MS. Germ. E. 22 & al. Strasbourg devotional manuscripts: Andrew Honey & Claudia Lingscheid & Monika Studer & Ruth Wiederkehr, Undine Brückner & Racha Kirakosian
11:00 Coffee break
11:15 Bodleian, MS. Douce 313 Franciscan Missal: Henrike Manuwald,
Bod-inc H-165 Book of Hours: Stefan Matter
Bodleian, MS. Opp. Add 4° 136 ‘Yiddish Songbook’: Elke Brüggen, Franz-Josef Holznagel
12:15 Bodleian, MS. Jun. 25 ‘Murbacher Hymns’: Michael Stolz
Merton College, MS 315 ‘Glosses’: Mary Boyle & Peter Kern
13:00 Lunch break (make your own arrangements)
14:45 Bodleian, MS. Hamilton 46 ‘Boethius’: Daniela Mairhofer
15:00 Bodleian, MS. Laud. Misc. 479 ‘Paradisus anime intelligentis’: Freimut Löser & Volker Mertens & Ben Morgan
15:45 Bodleian, MS Douce 367: Platterberger Chronicle: Linus Ubl
Bodleian, Bod-inc B-504 / R-32: Bettina Wagner
16:15 Taylorian, MS. 8° G. 2 Bruder Philipp, ‘Marienleben’: Kurt Gärtner & Christina Ostermann
16:45 Right to respond / Conclusion: Nigel F. Palmer
17:00 End of proceedings
Professor of Medieval German * Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages * 41 Wellington Square * UK – OX1 2JF Oxford * 0044 1865 2-70498 * Follow @HLaehnemann * Visit the Reformation 2017 at the Taylorian Institute website
Andrew and Jana talked about the western hand paper making process, ink making, quill shaping, and showed examples of other writing tools and materials (handmade sealing wax, stamps, paper making mould, pounce pots, etc.)
Participants all received a locked letter and later, in a seminar session, looked at three examples of folding techniques used by Thomas’s brother Philip Traherne (1635-1686), in letters preserved in Bodleian collections. Examination of major Traherne items from the collections, and additional material kindly lent by college libraries of Balliol, Brasenose, and Queen’s Colleges, formed the second part of the day. Balliol and Brasenose college library staff participated in the day with the Traherne editors.
Jana Dambrogio (Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator, MIT Libraries), Sassoon Fellow, is examining ‘locked letters’ in Bodleian collections. [See an earlier blogpost here] Her first challenge is to discover the material, by looking through collections of letters from the 16th and 17th centuries. She consulted Mike Webb, curator of early modern manuscripts, and they started looking at volumes of letters in which Dambrogio identified distinctive styles of folding and sealing, the kind of usage which her research will examine in detail.
On August 9, the Bodleian Fellows Seminar heard from Laura Estill (Texas A&M), the Renaissance Society of America-Bodleian Visiting Fellow. Dr Estill has been working on the Edmond Malone collection, and she compared Malone’s collecting of Elizabethan plays to the collection of John Phillip Kemble, which is now held in the Huntington Library, and spoke about the significance of collections like these, made from the second half of the 18th century onwards, in shaping the canon of early modern plays.
The Shakespeare sonnets collected in 2016 contain an astoundingly broad range of printed versions, coming from a wide range of printers from around the world. I recently looked through some of these and was fascinated to discover the many differences between the different editions, which caused me to ponder whether to write Shakespeare using a different typeface, orthography or other presentational choice is to reproduce precisely the same essential message.
Take, for example, the difference between two different editions of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 (“Shall I compare” etc) which were presented side-by-side to one another. One, taken from Shakespeare’s 1609 First Folio, is written with Shakespeare’s original spelling and orthography, now fairly antiquated in its use of such archaisms as “u” in lieu of “v”, or the “long s” (“ſ”). In contrast, the second version, taken directly from Wikipedia, not only uses a modern sans serif typeface, but also a modern and standardised form of spelling throughout.
For the modern reader, this functions as something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it could be argued that placing Shakespeare in a modern typeface and orthography causes him to appear more directly relevant to an audience more familiar with that more contemporary style. But it could also be seen to appear strangely synthetic and divested of its original meaning. It could be seen to lose something of its “authenticity”. A rather vague term, this could be here seen to refer to a certain consistency between the physical appearance of a work and the cultural context in which it originated. To take an Elizabethan poem and write it down in a modern style could be seen by some as deeply jarring in its inconsistency.
This then raises the important question of whether, as Ben Jonson said, “[Shakespeare] was not of an age, but for all time” or whether there is some specific temporal quality to his work that necessitates it being placed into its original cultural context. This is the same debate which tends to come into play, for example, when it is debated whether Shakespeare should be staged in modern or period costume. Several of the sonnets printed for this project gesture towards “authenticity”, with Sonnet 105 (“To me, fair friend” etc), from earlier this year, while at first appearing mock-Elizabethan through its antiquated typeface and use of illustration, nonetheless, upon closer inspection, also making use of modern orthography. The implication may be then that a balance must be preserved, so that Shakespeare’s message may retain more or less its original meaning, but also be capable of altering that meaning in subtle ways in order better to fit a contemporary cultural context.
For modern readers, there is a certain value both in understanding Shakespeare’s work as it originally would have been and as it is now and therefore a certain value in comprehending how the way in which Shakespeare is written could be seen to affect what it means.
from Benjamin Maier, Intern at the Bodleian Libraries
On Friday 17th June 2016, the Centre for the Study of the Book hosted a workshop on the history, science and art of woodblock printing. Organized by Dr. Giles Bergel under a Katharine Pantzer Fellowship from the Bibliographical Society of America, the workshop focussed on English woodcutting and wood-engraving with particular reference to the so-called Charnley-Dodd collection of original wooden printers’ blocks assembled in Newcastle in the mid nineteenth century, used by several generations of Newcastle printers to print illustrations for ballads and chapbooks.
Opening the proceedings, Dr. Bergel offered a brief history of the printers and their blocks, offprints of which can be seen in an 1858 catalogue produced by Newcastle printer Emerson Charnley, and in an 1862 catalogue of the same set of blocks, with additions, issued by William Dodd. The workshop was fortunate to have to hand the Bodleian’s copy of the Charnley catalogue, and even an original woodblock employed in the 1862 Dodd group in the possession of Graham Williams.
Charnley-Dodd woodblocks are also to be found in McGill University Library ; the British Museum ; and the Huntington Library. Dr. Mei-Ying Sung next spoke on her work on cataloguing the large Armstrong Collection of woodblocks in the Huntington, including Charnley-Dodd blocks. A theme of the day, expressed also by Dr. Elizabeth Savage, Judith Siefring, Dr. Melanie Wood and others, was the necessity for collection histories and cataloguing standards for these printing materials, held in libraries, museums, working collections and elsewhere, that pose particular challenges for researchers and curators.
The workshop next heard from Barry McKay on the woodcutter only known by the initials ’RM’ on Charnley and other blocks employed to print chapbooks in Cumbria and elsewhere, some copied from stock blocks used over two centuries previously: the presentation testified to the power of combining bibliographical analysis of impressions, together with external evidence taken from book trade history.
Martin argued that printers will always find pragmatic solutions to the problem at hand, whether by ad-hoc block-repair, block copying or touching-up printed sheets by hand: ‘bodging’ is the norm. The matter of bodging engaged many of the other practitioners present, including Paul Nash, who presented a ‘dabbed’ type-metal cast of a woodblock made by him and Giles Bergel ; Richard Lawrence , Martin Andrews and Graham Williams, who presented some American woodblock-repair plugs (plugged holes can be seen in several Charnley blocks). Martin Kochany cautioned researchers trying to sequence apparently unique woodblocks to be aware of printers’ panoply of bodges, and to look for the contradictory or marginal cases that might define the norm.
The workshop briefly touched on the relationship between woodcut and wood-engraving. There was discussion of the tolerances of a woodblock used over a long working life, and how the development of wood-engraving was both a more robust and a more refined process, Nigel Tattersfield bringing his immense knowledge of the career and work of Thomas Bewick to bear on the subject. Melanie Wood’s account of three linked collections at Newcastle University’s Robinson Library (the White , Burman-Alnwick and Crawhall collections) also opened the discussion out from the Charnley-Dodd collection to a broader history of woodcutting and illustration design.
The workshop then concluded, but was immediately followed by a public lecture from workshop participant Professor Blair Hedges , who presented his work on the science of woodblock illustrations, with particular reference to species of woodworm and to the cracking of blocks, or of carved lines, in relation to the woodgrain or to the thickness of the line. A response was given by Reading University lecturer Martin Andrews : an appreciative and lively discussion chaired by Giles Bergel then ensued, engaging an audience of bibliographers, printing practitioners, book and print historians. The quality of the discussion vindicated the approach of the workshop in bringing together scientists, practitioners and historians, and testified in particular to the importance of Blair’s research. A drinks reception was held, fittingly, at the Bodleian’s Bibliographical Press.
Research continues, in the form of ongoing and new collaborations – in particular around dabbing and other block-reproduction methods, the application of Computer Vision technology to the study of printing, and the history of technique, materials and style in wood-engraving.
In the summer of 1594 William Shakespeare decided to invest around £50 to become a shareholder in a newly formed acting company: the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. This lecture examines the consequences of this decision, unique in English theatrical history.
By examining the early modern theatrical marketplace and the artistic development of Shakespeare’s writing before and after this moment, it is hoped that this talk shows why 1594 was, by some measure, Shakespeare’s most important year.
This lecture will celebrate Shakespeare’s immortality on the exact 400th anniversary of his burial. It will begin from Theseus’ famous speech in A Midsummer Night’s Dream about the magical, transformative power of poetry.
It will argue that Shakespeare inherited from antiquity a fascination with the intimate association between erotic love, magic and the creative imagination, and that this is one of the keys to the enduring power of his plays.
Sir Jonathan Bate, Provost of Worcester College and Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, is one of the world’s most renowned Shakespeare scholars, the author of, among many other works, Shakespeare and Ovid, The Genius of Shakespeare, Soul of the Age and (as co-editor) The RSC Shakespeare: Complete Works. He co-curated Shakespeare Staging the World, the British Museum’s exhibition for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and he is the author of Being Shakespeare: A One-Man Play for Simon Callow, which has toured nationally and internationally and had three runs in the West End.
Coroners’ inquest reports into accidental deaths tell us about the hazards of everyday life in Shakespeare’s day. There were dangerous jobs, not just building, mining and farming, but also fetching water, and travel was perilous whether by cart, horse or boat. Even relaxation had its risks, from football and wrestling to maypole-dancing or a game of bowls on the frozen River Cherwell.
John Donne’s sermon, Death’s duell, was part of an early Stuart vogue for funeral sermons. Professor McCullough discusses Donne’s contribution to this genre, and looks at how this tradition is connected to the poetic and dramatic representations of death on display in the exhibition, Shakespeare’s Dead.
Professor Katherine Duncan Jones, Senior Research Fellow, Somerville College, gives a talk on Shakespeare’s poem, Venus and Adonis.
In 1592-93, with London playhouses closed because of plague, Shakespeare wrote his most technically perfect work. Venus and Adonis (1593) is a highly original ‘take’ on the ancient Greek myth of the doomed Adonis – presented here as a pubertal boy incapable of responding to the goddess’s amorous advances. It was a tearaway success with Elizabethan readers.
Ben Jonson wrote in 1623 that Shakespeare ‘art a Moniment, without a tombe/ And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live’: centuries later Jorge Luis Borges observed that ‘when writers die, they become books’, adding, ‘which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation’. This lecture considers Shakespeare’s First Folio as a literary memorial to Shakespeare, alongside other elegies, epitaphs, and responses to the playwright’s death.
The Roman historian Lucian described a Celtic god, Ogmios, as ‘the Gallic Hercules’. Alciatus’s Emblems portrays ‘l’Hercule gaulois’ in a way that emphasises that the strength of this god is not in youth or bodily vigour, but in eloquence. A chain passes from the tongue of Ogmios to the ears of his followers. In the French translation by Jean LeFevre, the accompanying verse is titled ‘Eloquence vault mieux que force,’ and draws attention to ‘… ce qui la marqu[er] de si grand gloire / Que mener gens enchainez a sa langue / Entendre veult: qu’il feist tant bien harengue / Que les Francois pour ses ditz de merveilles’
The cleric and diplomat Claude de Seyssel (1468-1540) translated Plutarch’s Lives of Antony and Demetrius into the French vernacular: these were individuals whose seeming virtues degenerated, in the changing context of their own times, into political vices. In acknowledging the dangers of kingship conceived as personal rule, Seyssel’s work of political advice to the French king Louis XII, La grant monarchie de France, differed from the writings of his contemporary Niccolo Machiavelli, in firmly placing the king within a necessary structure of the Church, laws, and administration.
Geoffroy Tory (born c. 1480) invoked the theme of ‘l’Hercule gaulois’ in his famous work Champ fleury (1529) as part of a broader defense of the beauty and force of the French vernacular. As official printer to King Francis I, and the translator of several classical works into French, including writings by Plutarch, Tory was also deemed to have been influential in the 1539 Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts wherein all legal acts and contracts had to be issued in French.
Rebecca Kingston is Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. She works in the history of French political thought (1500-1800) and on the emotions in political theory. She is author of Montesquieu and the parlement of Bordeaux (1996), Public Passion (2011) and has edited a number of volumes in both of her areas of research. As RBC Bodleian Fellow she is working on a monograph looking at the changing conceptions of the ‘public’/ ‘la chose publique’ through vernacular translations of Plutarch and early modern French and English political theory. Her talk will explore the concept of la chose publique through the Plutarch translations and political reflections of early 16th century political thinkers in France.
The master classes programme presents scholars discussing materials from Bodleian special collections. In 2015-16 the programme included discussions of the letter forms, musical notation, provenance, and artistic content of Bodleian manuscripts and printed books, including the ’12 millionth book’, acquired in 2015, Shelley’s Poetical Essay.
21 October 2015: Stephen Greenblatt (Harvard/Humanitas Visiting Professor) The rise and fall of Adam and Eve
18 January 2016: Irene Ceccherini (Bodleian Library/Lincoln College) The palaeography of the Latin classics in 14th-century Italy
25 Jan 2016: Michael Rossington (Newcastle) Shelley’s Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things: some manuscript contexts
1 February 2016: Elizabeth Solopova (Faculty of English/Brasenose College) The Wycliffite Bible: beloved but banned bestseller
8 February 2016: Jim McCue (independent) T.S. Eliot, Vivien and ‘F. M.’
15 February 2016: Daniela Mairhofer (University of Vienna) Manuscripts from German religious houses in the Bodleian
22 February 2016: Benjamin Wardhaugh (All Souls, Music) Seventeenth-century musical manuscripts
29 February 2016: Eleanor Giraud (Faculty of Music/Lincoln College) Square chant notation: identifying and distinguishing scribes
7 March 2016: Deirdre Serjeantson (University of Essex, English) Poetic miscellanies from the early modern period
In September 2015, the Bodleian’s Bibliography Room re-opened in the Old Bodleian Library, after a move from temporary quarters in the Story Museum, Oxford. The workshop is now housed in a ground-floor room, the Schola Musicae, opening from the Old Schools Quadrangle. Inside are five free-standing iron presses (four Albions and a Columbian)*, a number of table-top presses, and several composing frames, including three seventeenth-century frames, with a quantity of wooden and metal type.
The room hosts classes in hand-printing for students from Oxford and other universities, and regular workshops for families, adults, and primary school groups. One group from a local school printed a sonnet by Shakespeare; seven children set two lines each while their classmate created a linocut of the school emblem.
Many former students and visitors from other universities will remember that Paul W. Nash expertly shepherded the room through its previous incarnations in the New Library (now refurbished as the Weston Library) and in the Story Museum. His successor as superintendent of the press is Richard Lawrence, who teaches printing to university students and visiting groups and also supervises open sessions, when experienced printers are welcome to use the workshop, on Thursday evenings during term-times. Several projects initiated by students are underway, including the printing of Luther’s 95 theses, catalyst for the Reformation, in time for the 500th anniversary in 2017. Courses in printing history, practical printing, and letterpress printing, open to the public, are offered in June 2016.
This year the Bibliographical Press hosts an effort to gather copies of all of Shakespeare’s sonnets printed in 2016, the 400th anniversary of his death. A call for contributions of sonnets went out in January and was quickly answered by printers around the world. (http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/csb/sonnets2016 ) Though all 154 sonnets are now promised for the Bodleian Rare Books collection, anyone wishing to participate in the effort is invited to contact the Centre for the Study of the Book, e-mail email@example.com; the CSB will endeavour to announce and display sonnets printed in 2016 by any technique of relief printing.
*A further note on the presses contained in the room. These were reported by Philip Gaskell in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society no. 1, 1965:
“(1) Albion (demy), serial number 539, (1835), from the Daniel Press” [This was the press used by C.H.O. Daniel, Provost of Worcester College, from 1880-1906 and presented to the library in 1919.]
An enthusiastic response meant all 154 sonnets were quickly assigned. The UK and the USA are the most heavily represented countries with particularly strong showing from Oxford, California and Iowa. Submissions are also expected from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy , Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Spain.
The project is now well underway and we eagerly await parcels winging their way to the Bodleian from across the world. Congratulations to the Kings Bookshop, Callander, who were the first to submit sonnet 92, translated into Scots!
Follow the links to see some of the presses and people involved in this effort.
Pictures of sonnets in type and on the press, as these are received from the printers, can be seen on our twitter feed @bodleiancsb, #154sonnets