The Materiality of Medieval Manuscripts: 

Interpretation Through Production


My project was an investigation of the British Library’s Harley MS 2253, particularly folio 88v. This codex in general and this folio in particular are good examples of the kind of manuscript in which popular romances were copied.
The project I made, a mock up of folio 1r of Cambridge, Corpus Christi, MS 402, is the first page of the best-known English anchoritic text, Ancrene Wisse.
Eric Mason
Querying Quires: The Significance of the Unexpected Arrangements of the Latter Quires of Codex Sinaiticus Eric F. Mason, Ph.D. Professor of Biblical Studies Judson University, Elgin,
Rebecca Mouser
Before the NEH seminar, I had been exploring the oral-traditional aspects of fourteenth-century romances, with particular focus on the alliterative Morte Arthure and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
James Barker
My research focuses on the production and reception of early Christian gospels, and I am particularly interested in ancient scribal practices. This Summer I reproduced a page of a thirteenth-century parchment codex of the gospels produced by a woman named Olympia (Bibliotèque nationale de France, Greek 97; a.k.a.
Rhonda McDaniel
From ancient times and throughout the Middle Ages there has been a close relationship between books and memory.  Instead of a storage place for memories, books were seen as aids to memory—objects with contents designed to facilitate commitment to memory and that served to remind readers of what they had already learned by heart.  Ancient trainin
British Library Additional MS 25719, f. 184r. Though hardly a flashy manuscript, Add. MS 25719 is interesting for several reasons.
As a participant of this 2015 NEH Summer Seminar, I created a copy of folio 6r of Bodleian Library, MS Greaves 51 (c.
Jeffrey Manuscript
Report: NEH Seminar on The Materiality of Medieval Manuscript: Interpretation through Production, Director Jonathan Wilcox, June 15-July10, 2015 Summary of Project undertaken by Jane E. Jeffrey, West Chester University
Subscribe to Articles


A return to the manuscripts characterizes many fields of medieval studies.  Codicology and palaeography—study of the physical form of a book and of the handwriting within it—have long been fundamental tools for scholars of the Middle Ages, yet few have cut a quill or written on parchment with oak-gall ink, still less scraped and stretched an animal skin, cut and folded parchment, then designed and organized text and decoration on the resulting pages. 

This seminar will enable participants to do precisely those things, and consider the insight that hands-on engagement with the material aspects of medieval book production can provide for the understanding of history and the interpretation of texts.  Such an approach is especially valuable in the present age of online resources that provide unprecedented access to high-quality images of medieval manuscript pages. 

This seminar will theorize and explore the significance of the material manuscript in the digital age. 

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar 

Dates: June 15 - July 10 (4 weeks)

Project Director(s): Jonathan Wilcox, University of Iowa

Faculty: Timothy Barrett, Cheryl Jacobsen, Julia Leonard, Jesse Meyer, Sara Sauers

Location: Iowa City, IA

Stipend: The stipend for this seminar is $3,300 per participant. 

Deadline: March 2, 2015 

Notification date: March 30, 2015

For more information: 
(319) 335-0454 



Seminar Faculty

Jonathan Wilcox
Department Chair and John C. Gerber Professor of English
(319) 335-0454
Timothy Barrett
Director, Center for the Book; Associate Professor, UICB/School of Library and Information Sciences
Seminar Faculty
(319) 621-2493
Sarah Sauers
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Printing and Book Design
Seminar Faculty
(319) 335-0447
Julie Leonard
Associate Professor, UICB/SLIS
Seminar Faculty
(319) 335-0447
Cheryl Jacobsen
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Calligraphy and Letter Arts
Seminar Faculty
(319) 330-5334