Teaching the Codex II

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Saturday 6th May 2017, Merton College, Oxford

Organisers: Dr Mary Boyle  and Dr Tristan Franklinos

Committee: Jessica Rahardjo  and Alexander Peplow

Following the success of the first Teaching the Codex colloquium in February 2016, which was attended by over one hundred international graduates and scholars, it became clear that there were a number of areas of palaeography and codicology which we had not been able to explore owing to the constraints of time. The intention of Teaching the Codex II was to continue the conversations started at the first colloquium, and to extend them into areas which will complement and supplement earlier discussions.

In order to facilitate more focused engagement, we structured the day a little differently from Teaching the Codex I, which involved panellists addressing all the delegates on their pedagogical approaches to palaeography and codicology, followed by some general discussion. Instead, morning and afternoon sessions each consisted of two panels running concurrently on particular topics (1.5 hrs) followed by a plenary session (1 hr) in which the members of the two panels were asked to report and comment on the panel session to all of the delegates, and facilitate further discussion.

The four panels were the result of suggestions from various colleagues who attended the first colloquium, and of consultation of our followers on Twitter. Each panel had four members of whom one was the panel chair. Each panel member offered a ten-fifteen minute presentation on the topic in question before the discussion was opened up to the delegates who had chosen to attend a particular panel. Dr Teresa Webber (Cambridge) offered closing remarks. The panels were as follows:

I: Continental and Anglophone approaches to teaching palaeography and codicology

  1. Dr Irene Ceccherini (Oxford) (Chair)
  2. Dr Marigold Norbye (UCL)
  3. Dr Daniel Sawyer (Oxford)
  4. Dr Raphaële Mouren (Warburg Institute)

II: Pedagogical approaches to musical manuscripts

  1. Dr Henry Hope (Bern) (Chair)
  2. Dr Margaret Bent (Oxford)
  3. Dr Eleanor Giraud (Limerick)
  4. Dr Christian Leitmeir (Oxford)

III: Approaches to teaching art history and manuscript studies

  1. Dr Emily Guerry (Kent) (Chair)
  2. Dr Spike Bucklow (Cambridge)
  3. Dr Kathryn Rudy (St Andrews)
  4. Emily Savage (St Andrews)

IV: Taking palaeography further: schools, outreach, and the general public

  1. Dr Pauline Souleau (Oxford) (Chair)
  2. Anna Boeles Rowland (Oxford)
  3. Sarah Laseke (Leiden)
  4. Sian Witherden (Oxford)

As with the first Teaching the Codex event, this event was made possible by the generous support of Dr Julia Walworth, Fellow Librarian at Merton College. The colloquium was attended by around seventy participants, and each panel was well-attended, and triggered substantial and wide-ranging discussion. Much of the day was live-tweeted, and one of our attendees, Dr Colleen Curran produced a Storify from our official hashtag, #teachingcodex


Teaching the Codex has various continuing strands:

  1. Our blog is testament to the continued interest in the questions surrounding pedagogy in palaeographical and codicological studies, and to the wider impact and outreach that can be achieved across various disciplines in the humanities through the use of manuscripts and incunabula. Monthly blog-posts are offered by graduates and academics on their experiences of Teaching the Codex to various audiences, and on the potential impact of palaeography, codicology, and the history of the book, on specialist and non-specialist alike. We also have periodical ‘Teachable Features’ which draw attention to (aspects of) particular manuscripts which may be of pedagogical use in illustrating particular features of palaeography and codicology to students.
  2. We have been asked by various participants to consider organising a further Teaching the Codex colloquium, and we are in the process of considering fruitful ways in which we might broaden our remit. One possibility is to expand our focus beyond western palaeography, and Jessica Rahardjo has offered to take a lead in this area.
  3. The Manuscripts Outreach Network has been founded as a sister organisation by a group of primarily Oxford-based early-career scholars. Those currently involved are Dr Pauline Souleau, Anna Boeles Rowland, Sian Witherden, Naomi Gardom, and Henry Tann, Mary Boyle, Tristan Franklinos, and Alexander Peplow. This initiative would not be possible without the support of Dr Julia Walworth.

We are very grateful for the support we have been given by Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) for our colloquia in both 2016 and 2017, as well as the support we have received from the Merton College History of the Book Group (2016, 2017); the Lancelyn Green Foundation Fund (2016, 2017); the Craven Committee (2016); and the Society for the Study of Medieval Languages and Literature (2017).


Oxford Medieval Studies