Archaeological adventures in the Bolton Library

We’re delighted to be able to share this fascinating post by Paul Novosel, with additional thanks to Dr Eleanor Giraud and the Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick.

Centre for Early Modern Studies, Limerick

by Paul Novosel

If I wasn’t a professional musician, I would have probably been an archaeologist. Unearthing the past and finding historical artefacts has always fascinated me. And this term at UL, I had the chance to experience something akin to an archaeological dig: as part of my MA in Ritual Chant and Song, I delved into the world of rare liturgical books.

For one of my MA modules, I was given the awesome opportunity to thoroughly examine a rare book from the Bolton Library and create a record of its health (image 1). The University of Limerick takes care of the Bolton Library, “a collection of 12,000 early printed books, manuscripts and incunabula of exceptional academic and bibliographic importance”. It’s a literary goldmine of historical artefacts for future generations of researchers—a very noble legacy, and a coup for the Glucksman Library.

Image1-MARitualChantandSongstudentscataloguechantbooksfromtheBoltonLibrary 1: Students of the MA in Ritual Chant…

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Reblog: Readers and Fools (Research Update)

Dr Mary Boyle is one of the co-founders of Teaching the Codex, and a Visiting Scholar at the Großbritannien-Zentrum at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Here we reblog her post on her summer project looking at marginalia in surviving copies of Sebastian Brant’s ‘Narrenschiff’. 

To Be A Pylgryme

I’m lucky enough to have been spending this summer as a visiting scholar at the Großbritannien-Zentrum (Centre for British Studies), which is part of Berlin’s Humboldt University. Two months of this period was funded by the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst/ German Academic Exchange Service) as part of a project looking at reader responses to Sebastian Brant’s Narrenschiff (Ship of Fools), which was first published in 1494.

The Narrenschiff is often described as a work of moral satire. To expand on that, it’s an extremely comprehensive list in verse of the different ways in which humans are fools, which doesn’t necessarily sound like an enticing description to the modern reader. There are over one hundred options, ranging from those who do not raise children properly to ignorant or otherwise inappropriate candidates for ordination, and from adultery to insufficient preparation for death. Each ‘fool’ is illustrated with a woodcut. This was an…

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Hair and Flesh

We’d like to thank Thom Gobbitt for permission to reblog this fantastic post about learning to distinguish the hair and flesh sides of parchment:

thomgobbitt

After giving a lecture on codicology in Stuttgart last month, I got a follow up question sent via the organiser (Dr Anja Thaler) regarding differentiating between the hair-side and flesh side of parchment. Rather than just replying, I thought it would make a good subject for a blog post (especially as the month is almost at an end and I’ve not written one yet). So, without further ado hair and flesh.

Before musing on my own experiences, it may first be useful to outline what I mean by ‘flesh side’ and ‘hair side’. First, though, we need to step back and consider parchment (sometimes called membrane, sometimes vellum if derived from cows or bulls). Parchment is the de-haired skin of an animal (particularly cows, sheep or goats, but hey, go wild), which has been soaked, scraped and most importantly dried under tension. The modern definition that leather is prepared…

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