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Early Modern Palaeography - HIS00106M

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Chris Webb
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

Reading, understanding and interpreting the records of the past is a core skill for anyone working in History. This module provides the technical foundation for developing fluent reading of handwritten records at all periods, and the knowledge and practice required to work with Early Modern handwriting. We will learn letter shapes, combination patterns, abbreviations and numbers, using original records in the Borthwick Institute. We will learn the basics of representing texts through editing in order to understand our own practice and the ways in which editors of texts choose to present written materials in printed form. We will use court records, probate records, title deeds, petitions and accounts, concentrating our attention on the period 1500-1720. Class sessions are collaborative and iterative; we will learn from each other in relaxed sessions, with access to the original records in the study space. Our records will be in English, and each session will use an original record and an edited version of at least part of the record.
 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • introduce the principles of early-modern palaeography
  • show students how to safely handle early-modern records
  • develop students’ familiarity with reading early-modern handwriting
  • cover a range of different types of early-modern documents
  • enable students to critically edit and summarise texts

Module learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course students should:

  • be able to read handwritten sources in English from the period 1500-1720
  • recognize abbreviations, contractions and marks from this period
  • understand the principles of producing a critical edition
  • know how to safely handle early-modern records in an archive
  • be able to identify different forms of handwriting across the early-modern period

Module content

Teaching Programme:
Students will attend a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-9 of the spring term at the Borthwick Institute for Archives.

The provisional programme is as follows:

Week 1: Briefing: Learning to read and handle archival records (1450s)
Week 2: Learning to read (1500)
Week 3: Learning to read, introduction to editing (1530s)
Week 4: Learning to read, editing practice, introduction to numbers and accounts (1540s)
Week 5: Learning to read: secretary hand (1590s)
Week 6: Learning to read carefully, and editing in practice (1590s)
Week 7: Reading with understanding (1620s)
Week 8: Reading with understanding, editing (1690s)
Week 9: Reading with fluency and accuracy, for meaning (1720s)

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
University - project
Project Portfolio
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Students will submit a project portfolio in week 10 of the spring term for summative assessment, which will test reading, editing and understanding, based on records at the Borthwick.

Students will produce an accurate, edited transcript of a short passage taken from a Borthwick court record, and a summary of the whole case, the summary being 1,000 words or less. 25% of the mark will be based on the accuracy of the transcription, 25% on the quality of the editing, and 50% on the quality and accuracy of the summary.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
University - project
Project Portfolio
N/A 100

Module feedback

For their summative assessment task, students will receive written feedback within four working weeks of the submission deadline, after which the convenor will be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if necessary. For more information, see the Statement on Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

Hoskin, PM and SL Slinn & CC Webb. Reading the Past: Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century English Handwriting. York: University of York, Borthwick Publications 2001.

     - Includes full colour facsimiles, transcripts and reading notes.
 

Hunnisett, R.F. Editing Records for Publication. London: British Records Association: Archives and the User no 4, 1977.

     - The premier text for editing archival records.


Harvey, PDA. Editing Historical Records. London: British Library, 2001.

     - Builds on Hunnisett, drawing on Harvey’s extensive experience as an editor.


Hunter, Michael. Editing Early Modern Texts. An introduction to Principles and Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

     - Focuses on literary manuscripts rather than records, and introduces different techniques and presentations.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.