Correcting late Middle English manuscripts: Masterclass with Daniel Wakelin, 19 Nov. 2012

Medieval manuscripts masterclass

In copying late Middle English, as in copying other languages, scribes in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England drew on techniques long established in practice but seldom written down. Those techniques of the scribes, their collaborators and their readers can be reconstructed from the manuscripts themselves.

These techniques might sometimes have been ‘tacit’, as good as unthinking; but what is intriguing is the question whether correcting ever reflects conscious ‘second thoughts’ about the text corrected and about the process of copying it into a book. Sometimes scribes fix practical problems in scribal labour; sometimes they stop to emend or even collate texts in ways which suggest their reading of, or attitudes to, the language and works they copy. Correcting is thereby a crucial part both of the history of book production and of an interesting period in the history of responses to English language and literature.

Daniel Wakelin came to Oxford in 2011 as Jeremy Griffiths Professor of Medieval English Palaeography in the Faculty of English and a Fellow of St Hilda’s College. He formerly taught in the Faculty of English and Christ’s College in Cambridge.

The class will be held on Monday, 19 November at 2:15 in the Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Room

“Leaves, feathers, pins, poetry and pity” – Masterclass with Chris Fletcher and Marinita Stiglitz, 12 Nov. 2012

Bodleian MS. Eng. c. 7967, a commonplace book kept by members of the Parkyns family

Masterclass on 12 November 2012, 2:15 pm
Lecture Room, Pitt Rivers Museum
Chris Fletcher (Keeper of Special collections and fellow of Exeter College) and Marinita Stiglitz (Bodleian Libraries Conservation) will explore a recently acquired commonplace book kept by the Misses Parkyns (and Aunt), Byron’s early friends at Newstead Abbey.
The session will look at the context of its acquisition and touch on the commonplace book as Byronic trophy cabinet, a source for life writing, literary reception and response.

Prof. Julia Crick, 5 November: English 10th-century manuscripts

from Martin Kauffmann

Medieval manuscripts masterclass

Monday 5 November, 2.15pm, Pitt Rivers Museum lecture room
(entrance through the Museum or via Robinson Close off the South Parks Road)

Prof. Julia Crick (King’s College London)
Beyond the metropolis: script and scribes in south-western Britain in the tenth century

Localizable and datable manuscripts are in short supply in western Britain at the end of the first millennium. As a consequence a limited number of models is available to interpret the unlocalized evidence we do have. This seminar looks at a very striking instance of a manuscript assigned an English origin, containing a text of extreme pertinence to the English Benedictine reform movement of the tenth century, but copied by a scribe who was trained in a centre outside the English mainstream, under Welsh or Irish influence. The historical and palaeographical challenge of this manuscript is compounded by the fact that it represents perhaps the earliest specimen of Caroline minuscule, the script of the reform, to have been written by a scribe on this side of the English Channel.

Thomas Barlow’s legacy of manuscript additions

A grasshopper; from John Guillim, A display of heraldry (London, 1638), Bodleian I 2.9 Med, a painted copy.

Will Poole’s masterclass in treating a collection of books as a primary source took the example of Thomas Barlow (1608-1691), Bodley’s Librarian, Provost of the Queen’s College, Oxford, Professor of Divinity and Bishop of Lincoln. As Dr Poole remarked, the examples shown in the class demonstrated that in Oxford, early modern books couldn’t be neatly divided into printed books and manuscripts. The class examined extensive additions and annotations made by Barlow to his books. Some annotations fall into the category of marks of reading but others extend to subject bibliographies or biographical notes on authors. Many record politico-theological disputes of the time, with Barlow’s own vehement remarks on the pertinence of the contents. In effect, Poole pointed out, these printed books contain working notes for Barlow’s own academic life as a polemical theologian.
Locating all the copies that belonged to Barlow has taken Poole into some detective work in the Bodleian’s own archives and in the archives of the Queen’s College, two institutions which shared in Barlow’s bequest. Librarians were interested to hear what further copy-specific information could be added to catalogue records on the basis of Poole’s research.

MS. notes and the title page of Alexander Cooke, Pope Joane (London, 1625), Bodleian A 3.13 Linc., with Thomas Barlow’s references to related material in the Bodleian Library, marks of ownership, and his note on the author.

Books and their readers: masterclass with William Poole, 29 Oct. 2012

Bodleian G 7.3 Th, note by Thomas Barlow [detail]

Will Poole examines the books belonging to Thomas Barlow (1607–1691) Provost of The Queen’s College and Bishop of Lincoln, in a masterclass to be held Monday, 29 October at 2:15, in the Pitt Rivers Lecture Room.

Extensive annotations and manuscript additions give clues to Barlow’s reading, including his notes (pictured) in Bodleian G 7.3 Th. [Nicholas Crosse], The Cynosura, or a Saving Star (London, 1670), criticising the dedicatory letter to the Countess of Shrewsbury – and questioning the morals of the countess herself.

Some of Barlow’s books and library records detailing their history, and the history of other early modern printed collections within the Bodleian, will be inspected during the class.

Dr Poole’s document on manuscript additions to printed books in the Bodleian Library collections can be found here

The classes on annotated books continue later in the term with:
26 November : masterclass
Felix Waldmann (Cambridge), ‘James Tyrrell, John Locke, and the text of Patriarcha non Monarcha (1681): the evidence from some Bodleian copies”
2:15, in the Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Room

Jane Austen, pins and paper: masterclass with Kathryn Sutherland and Andrew Honey, 22 Oct. 2012

Kathryn Sutherland and Andrew Honey present new research on the material of Jane Austen’s manuscript of the Watsons, a portion of which is held by the Bodleian Library. What does the physical manuscript tell us about Austen’s working methods?

A pin, taken from MS. Eng. 3764
A pin from Austen’s ms. of The Watsons

Stratigraphy of books and manuscripts

Opening of Bodleian Library MS Barlow 33, fol. 28v,29r, showing a prayer added by the owner and decorative borders
Bodleian Library MS Barlow 33, fol. 28v, 29r, showing a prayer for indulgence added by a user before the beginning of the penitential psalms.

A large class of 50 heard Kathryn Rudy demonstrate the methods and results of a stratigraphic analysis* of manuscripts, through which the history of how the textual and pictorial units were assembled, and the layers of evidence of use, yield a picture of the manuscript’s role within reading practices.

Dr Rudy showed examples of 14th and 15th-century devotional manuscripts from the Netherlands now in Bodleian Library collections. Through a close examination of the manuscripts, participants looked at evidence of how texts and miniature paintings had been assembled or added, either on behalf of or by the owner, and marks left by the handling of leaves or the kissing of images.

Dr Rudy’s class begins a season on additions and annotations, which will extend to the stratigraphy of printed books with Will Poole’s and Jackie Steadall’s examination of scholarly reading in the early modern period (masterclasses, 2:15 pm in the Pitt Rivers Lecture Room, 29 October and 26 November) and Nathalie Ferrand’s Besterman Lecture on Rousseau’s annotations (Convocation House, 8 November, 5:15 pm).

Participants in the class
Professor of Palaeography Daniel Wakelin, Kathryn Rudy, Nigel Palmer, and Martin Kauffmann (Bodleian Library) examining a manuscript in the class.

*A term coined by Peter Gumbert, see ‘Codicological Units: Towards a Terminology for the Stratigraphy of the Non-Homogeneous Codex’, Segno e Testo 2 (2004)

Boswell’s dictionary of Scots words: masterclass with Susan Rennie, 8 Oct. 2012

Susan Rennie at work with Andrew Honey examining the paper used in the manuscript of Boswell’s dictionary of Scots words, Bodleian MS. Eng. lang. d. 68

Susan Rennie will lead a masterclass examining the Bodleian manuscript which she recently identified as James Boswell’s materials for an intended dictionary of Scots words.  Andrew Honey, of the Bodleian’s Conservation section, provides commentary on the material evidence which helps to tell the story of the manuscript since it left Boswell’s hands.

The class takes place at 2:15 in the Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Room, entrance through the main University  Museum.

(see map)

Literary manuscripts 2011: Dealing meaning, 17 October

The Business of Archives: handling the remains of Shelley and Larkin

The first class in the series “Dealing meaning” was given by Joan Winterkorn (Bernard Quaritch Ltd). How to keep a literary archive together, and why this was important, were the themes of her talk, and she drew examples of how literary archives endured or were dispersed by means of encounters between authors, families, and collectors; estates and auctioneers; and dealers and libraries.

Considering the impact for scholarship of the Abinger Shelley Papers, Winterkorn pointed to individual items of significance for literary studies (the drafts of Frankenstein that showed Percy Shelley’s interventions) and those providing insights into the personal histories of the writers (such as the journals of Percy and Mary Shelley’s sometimes tempestuous times together).

Participants examine items from the collections at the masterclass.

Winterkorn referred to two collections that had come to the Bodleian Library in recent years:

The Abinger Collection of material from the Godwin and Shelley families [Bought by the library in 2004; since then the Bodleian has put further effort into a catalogue, linked here, and displaying the material, with items from the NYPL’s Pforzheimer Collection, in the exhibition Shelley’s Ghost.]

Philip Larkin’s letters to Monica Jones, a selection of which have been published as Letters to Monica in the volume edited by Anthony Thwaite, and complementing the Larkin Estate Collection at the University of Hull.

A display of the full surviving draft manuscript of Frankenstein can be seen in a Turning the Pages display here:

See more masterclasses this term on the CSB calendar.

A tale of two bibles: Rare Books masterclass

The origins and early history of the King James Bible are very much intertwined with that of the Puritan Geneva Bible (1560), on which it drew but which it also, eventually, displaced. At a masterclass on 20 May 2011, Helen Moore, fellow in English at Corpus Christi College and one of the curators of the exhibition, Manifold Greatness (at the Bodleian Library and Folger Library in 2011), showed two examples of the King James Bible from Bodleian collections; Bodleian Library Bib. Eng. 1613 e.1(2), an edition printed in London by Robert Barker (the printer of the first edition of this translation, two years earlier in 1611 — this 1613 black-letter quarto was a “He” bible repeating the error in Ruth 3:15 of one of the 1611 printings), and another edition printed in Amsterdam in 1672, Bodleian Library Bib. Eng. 1672 c.1(1).

Moore examined the paratextual elements which affected how the Bible was read, quoted, and taken as a spiritual guide by 17th-century readers. These include the illustrations drawing typological parallels between Old and New Testaments, annotations explaining the text, and concordances or tables helping readers to find reference in Scripture to particular topics.

KJB or Genevan?

King James I’s invitation to scholars to produce a new version of the bible was an attempt both to mollify Puritans in the Church of England who wished to promote greater knowledge of the Bible in English, and to replace the Geneva Bible, at that time the most popular English version. The Geneva Bible, conceived and produced by English Protestant exiles who had fled to Geneva to escape persecution during the reign of Mary I, reflected their theological and political ideas. James I’s instructions were that the new version should exclude commentary entirely. The “Rules to be Observed in Translation” drawn up for the translators of the KJB stated that “no marginall notes at all [were] to be affixed”. But examining the books themselves helped to prove Helen Moore’s point that bibliographical study questions this “anti-paternal” relationship of the Genevan bible to the KJB.

With the two editions from library collections to hand, Moore showed how looking at the contents of these books enabled a more detailed view of what contents circulated under the title page of the King James Bible. In both of these KJB editions, “Genevan” elements were evident; the woodcut title page of the first black-letter quarto edition, from 1613, was a close imitation of the title page of black-letter quarto editions of the Geneva Bible; extensive marginal annotations were printed in the 1672 Amsterdam edition, in defiance of James’s “no commentary” rule; the woodcut used as a title page vignette for the New Testament in the 1672 edition was copied from the Geneva Bible woodcut illustrations.

As a cultural phenomenon, elements of the “Genevan” Bible survived long after the advent of the version that was meant to replace it.

An exhibition catalogue, Manifold Greatness: the making of the King James Bible, edited by Helen Moore and Julian Reid, is published by the Bodleian Library.