Digital Humanities, Graduate Studies, History Department, Manuscript Studies, Workshops

Alisa Beer Holds Manuscript Encoding Workshop at Columbia

Alisa Beer (PhD, History) was fortunate enough to hold an internship with Consuelo Dutschke at the Columbia University Rare Books and Manuscripts Library in the Spring semester of 2017, through a joint program with the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.

The core of Alisa’s internship was the implementation of a two-day graduate student digital humanities workshop centered around RBML’s Plimpton Add. MS 04, a fifteenth-century English manuscript roll containing the Fifteen Oes of Saint Bridget.

The workshop took place on March 24 and 25, 2017, in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia, and was open to Columbia graduate students.  Its goal was the collaborative creation of a digital version of a MS roll, with accompanying searchable transcription & commentary.  Training goals for the graduate student participants included instruction in the paleography and codicology of medieval manuscipt rolls, digital editing and TEI markup, the use of XML editing tools such as oXygen, and project-based collaboration after the workshop concluded.

Alisa first encountered the Fifteen Oes of Saint Bridget, Plimpton Add. MS 04, when she was a student in Dr. Hafner’s Manuscript Culture class in the fall of 2012, when she visited the Columbia University Library as part of a course field trip.  When Alisa attended the Medieval Academy of America meeting in the spring of 2016 and heard about the Digital Editions of Medieval Manuscipt Rolls and Fragments project (DEMMR) at Yale University, the roll in Columbia’s collection seemed like a natural fit for the Yale project, which was looking to branch out into other collections and institutions.

Once Alisa knew she would be interning at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, she reached out to Anya Adair, Katherine Hindley and Gina Hurley, the Yale graduate students in charge of the DEMMR project, about the potential of running an iteration of their workshop at Columbia.

Alisa worked collaboratively with Consuelo Dutschke, Christopher Baswell, Terry Catapano, the three Yale graduate students, Alice Laforêt, another Columbia intern, Lila Goldenberg, and Emily Genatowski in order to implement the workshop, which was generously funded by the Columbia RBML director, Sean Quimby.

Alisa acted as lead coordinator and taught the majority of the two-day workshop.  This involved creating a course website, and adapting course materials shared by the Yale coordinators, as well as organizing participants, brushing up on TEI and XML, and working with English paleography and transcription of the original manuscript.  Alisa also compiled the final TEI file from participants’ individual files, and encoded the second half of the manuscript, which was not assigned to participants.  The TEI-encoded edition, along with the digital images provided by the Columbia photography labs, will be hosted on the Yale website in the near future as part of the final digital edition.

In the process of transcribing this roll, we learned that the Columbia manuscript contains textual variants not present in the published versions of the text.  The prayers included differ from those in the Huntington transcription, and those that are the same are in a different order.  Consuelo Dutschke’s research into other known instances of this text revealed that while the Fifteen Oes is a very common text, known in more than 80 instances, only two of those survivals are in roll format, while the majority of the rest are in codex format within books of hours.

Hopefully, the availability of this digital edition will facilitate research on textual variants of the Fifteen Oes of Saint Bridget, a text that has received comparatively little scholarly attention to date.

Art History, Graduate Studies, Manuscript Studies, Medieval Studies

Medieval Studies MA Students Inducted to Jesuit Honors Society

On April 7th, Michael Weldon (MA, Medieval Studies) and Kevin Vogelaar (MA, Medieval Studies) were inducted to the Jesuit Honors Society Alpha Sigma Nu.  The organization, which emphasizes scholarship, loyalty, and service, selected Michael and Kevin for their exemplary commitment to the tenets of Jesuit learning.

Michael Weldon

During his time in Fordham’s Medieval Studies MA program, Michael has specialized in insular manuscript illumination, stained glass, and the relationship between these two artistic media. This semester, he is studying the late-medieval glazing program practiced at the Church of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, in a tutorial with Dr. Zachary Stewart of the Art History Department.  He is also delving into the labor-intensive, painstakingly precise, and malodorous medieval process for turning raw animal hides into parchment as an intern at Pergamena Leather and Parchment.  In the summer, Michael will participate in a month-long anthropological / archaeological field study of the early-14th-century Balintober Castle in Ireland, for which he was awarded a competitive Summer Fellowship from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Last fall, Michael took advantage of Dr. Hafner’s Manuscript Culture course to research the Harkness Gospels, a late-9th- / early-10th-century insular manuscript attributed to Abbey Landevennec, Brittany.  In his forthcoming MA thesis, Michael will expand upon this research, analyzing and deconstructing imagery in the Harkness Gospels to shed light on Abbey Landevennec’s scribal practices.  Michael’s approach to scribal practice at Landevennec is informed by his firsthand encounter with the Harkness Gospels manuscript, which is held in the New York Public Library.  Next spring, he will share a section of his thesis at the 2018 Manuscripta conference at St. Louis University.

Michael’s contributions to Fordham aren’t limited to his accomplishments within the Center for Medieval Studies; he joins us from Fordham Preparatory School where he serves as Fine Arts Chair and teaches studio art and architectural drawing.

Kevin Vogelaar

While at the Center for Medieval Studies, Kevin has focused on intellectual history, interfaith relations, pilgrimage texts, art history, and sound studies.  His forthcoming thesis will address the reception of Pseudo-Methodius’ late-7th-century Syriac Apocalypse in Western Europe between the 9th and 11th centuries.  He will argue that Pseudo-Methodius allowed for a greater assertion of human agency in apocalyptic thought than other writers such as Augustine, Tyconius, and Jerome.  Like Michael, Kevin plans to present at next year’s Manuscripta conference.  His presentation will analyze illumination and architectural decoration in the Syriac Peshitta Gospels (Morgan Library MS M.235) to suggest that these decorative elements display early ‘Abbasid artistic influence and reveal a Syriac Christian nostalgia for an earlier time of ‘Abbasid rule.

Kevin is an active contributor to The Venerable Blog and works in Walsh Library, where he splits his time between the Reference Desk and Archives and Special Collections.  In Archives, Kevin has facilitated manuscript workshops for classes taught by professors in the Center for Medieval Studies and several teaching PhD candidates.  He is creating a database of manuscript facsimiles held in the Archive; in addition to serving as a well-needed finding aid for the facsimiles, the database will also provide useful discussion questions and introductory bibliographies.  This promising digital project will make the many highly-realistic facsimiles in Archives more accessible to the Fordham community and will offer students a valuable resource to begin exploring manuscript studies.

In the future, Kevin plans to pursue library and museum sciences, curating exhibits and collections that can expand and promote interdisciplinary studies within the field of interfaith relations.


Medieval Studies students visit “Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections”

From the Magdeburg Missal, 1486
Harvard University, Houghton Library, Typ Inc 2756

On December 4th, students in Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies visited Boston’s Beyond Words illuminated manuscript exhibit.  Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections features manuscripts from 19 different libraries and museums in the city.  Co-curated by Jeffrey Hamburger (Harvard University), William P. Stoneman (Houghton Library), Anne-Marie Eze (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), Lisa Fagin Davis (Medieval Academy of America), and Nancy Netzer (McMullen Museum of Art), the exhibit takes place at three different venues: Harvard University’s Houghton Library, Boston College’s McMullen Museum, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  Visiting the exhibit gave the Medieval Studies MA students the unparalleled opportunity to view over 200 illuminated manuscripts in one day, supplementing their coursework in manuscript studies, medieval literature, and medieval art history.

The Fordham medievalists viewed the McMullen Museum first.  Titled Pleasure and Piety, the McMullen exhibit shed light on lay readership in the High Middle Ages.  We were lucky to receive a tour by Lisa Fagin Davis, one of the co-curators of Beyond Words and the Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America.  The McMullen was packed with books of hours, antiphonals, breviaries, saints’ lives, Marian devotions, psalters, and the writings of medieval theologians, with items ranging from enormous folio-sized codices to minuscule prayer books meant to be carried on belts.  While showing us the manuscript fragments in the exhibit, Dr. Fagin Davis told us about her fascinating digital reconstruction of the dismembered Beauvais Missal.  She also introduced us to the Chronique Anonyme Universelle (Boston Public Library MS pb Med. 32), a 34-foot-long genealogical roll that recounts biblical events, the mythological history of Europe, and the succession of English and French kings.

After the McMullen tour, the group traveled to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which featured Italian Renaissance books.  The incunables in their exhibit allowed us to think closely about the ways in which visual culture and book culture changed in the wake of humanism and the invention of the printing press.

Items in Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections can be viewed in the exhibit’s digital catalogue and in a richly-illustrated print catalogue.  Many of the books are fully digitized.

The Center would like to thank the Graduate Student Association for their generous support, Dr. Fagin-Davis for the insightful tour, and Dr. Kowaleski and Dr. Stoneman for their help in planning the trip.