Disputationes Metaphysicae

Jean-Pascal Pouzet (Limoges) Describing codicological structures in western medieval manuscripts (Seminar in Palaeography and Manuscript Studies, 21 October 2013)

More than an introduction to the structure of manuscripts, Jean-Pascal Pouzet presented a series of suggestions with regard to the layers of evidence to be examined to determine the structure of the text block currently present in any manuscript volume, and the nature, or possibly the changing nature, of portions of the manuscript through time from its creation to the present day. In effect he asked the class to view codicology as the philology of the material text and to take the study of codicology as one that precedes, as well as needing to work in parallel with, understanding of the palaeographical, art historical, and textual studies that also derive from the manuscript evidence.

Taking his motto from M.R. James, ‘See books for yourselves,’ Pouzet displayed in the class the manuscripts MS Bodley 801, MS Digby 177, MS Douce 137  and MS e Musaeo 62 to demonstrate in each case the different ways that fascicles and booklets had been joined to produce different types of collections within these volumes.

Pouzet emphasized the importance of exact terminology in describing codicological  and textual units, and in particular attempted to refine the concepts of the booklet and the fascicle.

‘Fascicle’ he distinguished as a unit which is materially marked out and possibly intellectually self-contained, but designed to exist within a particular collection rather than independently. The ‘booklet’ is something Pouzet, developing the term as used by Pamela Robinson, Ralph Hanna, Eric Kwakkel [whose Lowe Lectures will be heard at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in Trinity Term 2014] and Alexandra Gillespie, identified as a physically and intellectually self-contained unit. It is then the movement of these parts through time, from their creation to later movements into and out of collections, changing the structural forms of manuscript books, that defines the type of collection, that is, the way the manuscript book was formed and a suggestion of the cultural intention behind the formation.

(From my own point of view, this discussion is reminiscent of similar attention that is given in the cataloguing of printed materials to describing and distinguishing the following aspects: the intellectual work; the matrix from which letters and images are printed; and the composite item which constitutes the edition; not to mention the individual item as held in a library; see a related discussion deriving from counting the catalogue records of broadside ballads.)


John Wallis and the idea of a universal library

A cryptographic manuscript book by John Wallis (1616-1703) shows text mark-up at work in the early modern period. The symbols Wallis identified in this code include pairs of symbols that ‘signify that what is between is to be deleted’, and one symbol to delete that which is before it. The work by Wallis, who had decrypted letters during the Civil Wars, was a book of deciphered letters, intended to teach the skill to another generation.
MS. Eng. misc. c. 382

Louisiane Ferlier’s master class on October 14 examined books donated by Wallis to the Bodleian and other Oxford libraries. Cryptographer, mathematician, founding member of the Royal Society and controversialist, he was the Savilian Professor of Geometry from 1649 until his death, and was elected Keeper of the University Archives in 1657.
His donations to the Savilian Library (kept privately within the Bodleian) and to the Bodleian itself were the subject of Dr Ferlier’s discussion, as she examined the means and possible motives of his presentation of printed books, pamphlets and manuscript books. Manuscript publication of books of letters intercepted in cipher, which Wallis had deciphered during the Civil Wars, he presented in order, he wrote, to teach others how to decrypt codes. Other materials seemed particularly aimed to strengthen the Bodleian’s holdings of material intended to show the truth of Protestant religion.
see: Cultures of Knowledge calendar and edition of Wallis’s correspondence and The Wallis Project, an investigation of his works on grammar, on logic and on music theory.

The Cadiz pirates

Portrait of Elizabeth I (1533–1603)  by Wilhelm Sonmans
Elizabeth I (1533–1603)
by Wilhelm Sonmans
(c) Bodleian Libraries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Dr Anders Ingram (National University of Ireland, Hakluyt Edition Project) used copies of the second edition of Hakluyt’s Principle Navigations (1598-1600) to explore the nature of censorship in Elizabethan England. At issue was the passage describing the Cadiz Expedition of 1596, led by the Earl of Essex and Lord Howard, during which English and Dutch troops sacked the Spanish city.

But the failure to capture the Spanish treasure fleet, and the conduct of the leaders, including the distribution of the booty, led to royal suppression of Essex’s own account of his actions. Two years later, Hakluyt included in his Navigations a “brief description” written by the doctor who travelled on the Ark Royal. The pages containing this episode were later excised from many copies of the work, and a new title page was produced omitting mention of the Cadiz expedition. Examining the physical evidence in three copies of Hakluyt’s Navigations from Bodleian collections, Dr Ingram showed that these represented different variants, and called into question the reason for the removal of these leaves: was this censorship, or action by the publishers in advance of the appearance of Hakluyt’s second volume, printed in 1599, which had found a sponsor in Robert Cecil, one of the examiners of the costs of the expedition during the controversy?

The copies examined contained: (1) The edition intact with the Cadiz episode as originally printed and a title page dated 1598; (2) The Cadiz leaves intact, but with a new title page dated 1599; (3) The leaves containing the description of the Cadiz episode replaced with a later (c. 1720) reprint, in different type and differently set.

Tyrrell and Locke on Patriarcha non monarcha: Masterclass with Felix Waldmann, 26 Nov. 2012

In an exciting conclusion to the autumn season of masterclasses, Felix Waldmann (Cambridge) spoke on ‘James Tyrrell, John Locke, and the text of Patriarcha non Monarcha (1681): the evidence from some Bodleian copies’.
Examining three Bodleian copies, Dr Waldmann found that the pattern of annotations, corrections, and manuscript additions in these copies, from the libraries of Thomas Barlow (the subject of an earlier masterclass) and John Locke himself, contributed significant evidence touching on theories of the composition of the text, which have variously described the publication as a collaboration between Locke and Tyrrell or Tyrrell’s original work which inspired Locke’s Two Treatises of Government.
This was the second in the series of Early Printed Books masterclasses convened by William Poole (New College).

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